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The Brief: Aug. 10, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry already has at least one strategy in his campaign arsenal: steal the spotlight.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry departs a private plane at the San Antonio International Airport during a campaign stop on November 1,…

The Big Conversation:

Gov. Rick Perry already has at least one strategy in his campaign arsenal: steal the spotlight.

For the governor, whose prayer event last weekend already thrust him onto the national stage, that means siphoning as much attention as possible from whichever Republican wins Saturday's Ames Straw Poll, an early test of organizational support for Republican candidates.

Though Perry's name won't appear on the ballot, some of the governor's supporters have mounted a write-in campaign. “If he gets good write-in support, that would be a significant boost. If he doesn’t get much, well, he can say: ‘I wasn’t campaigning. I haven’t even declared,’” Steve Roberts, a longtime Iowa Republican activist, tells The Dallas Morning News. “It’s kind of a win-win.”

Steve Deace, a conservative radio host in Iowa, tells the Morning News that he predicts a “subtle yet substantive write-in effort” would give Perry 7 percent of the vote, landing him in seventh place.

But Perry's not pinning his hopes on the poll. Instead, as reported earlier this week, on Saturday he'll make a pre-announcement of sorts at a RedState convention in South Carolina before stopping in New Hampshire. Then, on Sunday, as the Des Moines Register has reported, he'll make his first stop in Iowa as a presidential candidate. (A formal declaration of the governor's candidacy, though, isn't expected until next week.)

Perry's carefully timed travel may draw media attention away from the straw poll and its likely victor, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, with whom Perry is most heavily expected to compete for the support of social conservatives.

“I bet you all the candidates are unhappy that he’s stealing the spotlight on Saturday,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, tells the Register. “I mean, he could have chosen any day to make that speech. He’s obviously doing it to step on Ames. There is no other explanation. He wants to squash any winner or winners out of Ames.”

And don't expect the Bachmann-Perry tension to end there: In Iowa on Sunday, Perry will speak at a fundraiser in Waterloo — Bachmann's hometown.

Culled:

  • The Trib's Jay Root reports today that Gov. Rick Perry's infamous Texas secession remark at an April 2009 Tea Party rally wasn't the first time the governor broached the subject. “When we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation," Perry told a group of tech bloggers during an interview, which was posted online over two years ago. "And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”
  • Though his name recognition remains relatively low compared to other top contenders, Rick Perry receives the highest "positive intensity score" of any Republican presidential candidate, according to new Gallup polling
  • The unforgiving Texas heat — worsening the state's drought and wreaking havoc on the state's infrastructure — also has some worried about the health of prison inmates, many of whom live without air conditioning, the Trib's Brandi Grissom reports. “It’s presumed taxpayers are not going to want to fund air conditioning of the units,” says a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"It needs to happen, and I agree with you it would tie things up. No question about that." — U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, to a Tea Party activist who suggested that the House impeach President Obama to stall his agenda

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