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The Brief: July 18, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry doesn't just covet the presidency. If his most recent statements are any indication, he also thinks it's his calling.

Gov. Rick Perry (r) looks at the crowd of reporters in the Governor's Reception Room as State Sen. Troy Fraser (l), R-Marble…

The Big Conversation:

Gov. Rick Perry doesn't just covet the presidency. If his most recent statements are any indication, he also thinks it's his calling.

Days after the Houston Chronicle quoted Perry saying he believed "with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will," the governor, speaking to The Des Moines Register, put his hypothetical candidacy in even grander terms.

“I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in,” Perry said. “But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do."

"This is what America needs," he added.

The governor's display of confidence comes a week after reports surfaced of his attempts to make direct plays for Iowa and New Hampshire insiders. A contingent of major evangelical Christians seems to be coalescing around Perry. He just met with two top national security experts. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he thinks it's likely Perry will run. And Texas Montly's Paul Burka thinks that's "absolutely" the case.

The evidence continues to mount. We still won't likely hear anything official until after Perry's Aug. 6 prayer event at Reliant Stadium, but that's less than three weeks away. In the meantime, check out Burka's "Eight Points to Keep in Mind When Writing About Rick Perry."

And the Tribune's Thanh Tan has a look at who's footing the bill while Perry travels the country.

Culled:

  • Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert outpaced former Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones in the latest round of fundraising for the U.S. Senate race. But today marks a turning point in the contest: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the presumed front-runner, is set to announce his candidacy, setting off, as the Austin American-Statesman notes, what's looking to be a two-man battle between Dewhurst and Cruz.
  • Republican Barbara Cargill, the new chairwoman of the State Board of Education, will go into her first board meeting, on Thursday, facing criticism for telling an audience that the board needs more conservative Christians. Critics worry that the comments push the same type of strident conservatism that dogged Cargill's predecessors. Thomas Ratliff, one of the board's more moderate Republicans, told the San Antonio Express-News that the comments "continue the divisiveness rather than bring us together for the benefit of the schools and the kids. She's continuing to draw a line that is very judgmental,” he said.
  • Why has Texas succeeded in creating jobs while other states have failed? The question, quickly becoming one of the national media's favorite political footballs with Gov. Rick Perry nearing a presidential run, has gotten its own space in The New York Times, with journalists and experts offering their takes.
  • The Monitor has a look at what may be the nation's first Hispanic Tea Party, a Rio Grande Valley group that meets to talk limited government and constitutional principles — and conducts most of its business in Spanish. “If they hear that everyone is speaking in English, they don’t want to express their views because they feel more comfortable in their own language,” says of the group's members. “Those that do want to express their conservative values are more comfortable doing it in Spanish.”

"The establishment Republicans in the House, I do not think they like having 101 Republicans. They had a mission to make sure we would never have a large majority again." — State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, to The Texas Observer on the primary challenge he'll face from Rep. Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, R-Mauriceville

Must-Read:

Corrido Music: Art imitating life, death in Mexico's drug war, The Monitor

Texas border sees rise in illegal immigrants from India, The Associated Press

Last Federal Helium Reserve, near Amarillo, is running out, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In Texas, Jailbreaks Aren't Like the Movies. Usually., The Texas Tribune

Ron Paul ... Not Your Average Texas Candidate, The Texas Tribune

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