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The Brief: July 11, 2011

And the slow drum beat continues: On Friday, Gov. Rick Perry, still undecided, made a direct play for Iowa insiders.

Gov. Rick Perry answers a reporter's question about his presidential aspirations during a bill signing on May 27, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

And the slow drum beat continues: On Friday, Gov. Rick Perry, still undecided about whether to jump into the presidential race, made a direct play for Iowa insiders.

Politico reported Friday that Perry has begun calling up Iowa activists to get a read on the political environment in the early caucus state.

Well-known Republican activist Joni Scotter received one of those calls on Friday. "He sounded great and just asked if he should run," Scotter told Politico. "And I said, of course."

Perry also called and left a message for state Rep. Stewart Iverson, R-Clarion. “He said I’m probably coming to Iowa in the near future and he’d love to talk to me,” Iverson told the Des Moines Register. “And I’d love to talk to him. I don’t know much about him, but I think he’d be worthwhile to visit with.”

Politico also reported that Peter Terpeluk, a major fundraiser for George W. Bush and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, will hold a meeting with top national uncommitted donors this month in Austin to discuss funding for a Perry campaign. Terpeluk wouldn't comment on the meeting, which was confirmed by a "well-connected Texas Republican."

News also surfaced Friday that Perry will speak at Liberty University, the major evangelical Christian university that often attracts Republican presidential candidates during election season. Perry will address a convocation in September, by which point he will have likely announced whether he's running. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota — who might serve as one of Perry's chief foils, especially in Iowa, if he gets in — will also speak at Liberty two weeks later.

"How well they are received at Liberty will be a good indicator for how they will be received in Christian circles nationwide," Jerry Falwell Jr., the school's chancellor, said in a statement on Friday.

Culled:

  • Even after taking criticism from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the United Nations' top human rights official, Gov. Rick Perry's not backing down from his decision to let the execution of Humberto Leal Jr. proceed. In a case that drew heated international debate, lawyers said Leal, convicted of murder, hadn't been informed of his right to seek legal help from the Mexican consulate, as afforded by the U.N.'s Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
  • The Austin American-Statesman has a look at the gulf that separates Gov. Rick Perry's record on education from George W. Bush's as governor. While Bush focused intensely on test scores, Perry has made headlines on the subject largely by attacking the Obama administration's attempts at federal education reform. Some of Perry's critics even long for the days of Bush, who they say was more clearly devoted to the matter. "We had a tremendous chance to improve public education in the state because the business community and [Bush] and the public at large believed that doing so was a priority," state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, tells the Statesman. "I have not found anything in this governor's agenda that would say that."
  • The explanation behind Texas' job growth has itself taken on political tones, with one side, including Gov. Rick Perry, crediting the state's business environment and the other side calling out the state's cheap labor and high oil prices. New York magazine has another theory: It's the drug trade.

"I feel like I am violating a trust. … It is an honor that he even considered calling. It was a wonderful conversation." — Iowa Republican activist Joni Scotter on the phone call she received Friday from Gov. Rick Perry

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