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The Brief: Aug. 15, 2011

After jolting the Republican presidential race to life over the weekend, Rick Perry must now play the expectations game.

Gov. Rick Perry takes a question at the Black Hawk County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner in Waterloo, Iowa, on Aug. 1…

The Big Conversation:

After jolting the Republican presidential race to life over the weekend, Rick Perry must now play the expectations game.

The governor, as expected, announced his candidacy for president on Saturday at a RedState convention in South Carolina. Laying the foundation for a fiery, decidedly conservative campaign against Washington and President Obama, Perry struck the same populist notes that propelled him to re-election in 2010. The takeaway line: "I’ll work every day to try to make Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as I can."

Meanwhile, the governor's announcement, as intended, distracted from the media circus in Iowa, where U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota eked out a narrow victory over U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in the Ames Straw Poll, an early test of organizational support. Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who needed a strong showing to keep his campaign alive but placed a distant third, dropped out of the race on Sunday, effectively reducing the field to a three-person race between Perry, Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Perry, who released his first campaign ad the same day, then took off in a sprint, traveling to New Hampshire and then to Iowa, where he and Bachmann spoke at a fundraiser on Sunday in her hometown of Waterloo. According to the Tribune's Jay Root, Perry, who wowed the crowd, may have miffed Bachmann, who reportedly wouldn't enter the room while Perry was speaking and wouldn't allow Perry to use her stage equipment.

Perry wouldn't take the bait, though, when asked in New Hampshire about the front page of the Sunday Boston Herald, which in stark lettering deemed Perry "Mitt's Worst Nightmare." Before he had even declared, polls consistently showed Perry trailing only Romney, and at times tying him.

"We're gonna have a lot of time to discuss, I'm sure, Gov. Romney's record," Perry said. "Today is not the time for that."

With expectations sky high, Perry now faces scrutiny unlike any he's ever withstood before. Root reports today that Perry has already begun walking back his controversial 2007 executive order mandating vaccination against HPV.

And as The Washington Post reports today, Perry may face his first public test as soon as Sept. 7, the date of the first of five GOP debates scheduled for the next two months. The governor, though, has yet to reveal his plans. “We have not committed to any,” said Perry adviser Dave Carney. "We will consider the opportunities, dates, rules, etc. and make the decisions in due time.”

Culled:

  • In a surprise move, the Southeastern Conference decided Sunday, at least for now, against extending an invitation to Texas A&M, which has reportedly been looking to leave the Big 12 over dissatisfaction with the Longhorn Network, the joint University of Texas/ESPN cable channel. A&M's regents will still meet today for a scheduled discussion of conference alignment, and A&M President R. Bowen Loftin will appear before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday. The sports intrigue comes as A&M System prepares to name its new chancellor, which, as the Trib's Ross Ramsey reported Friday, could be former Comptroller John Sharp.
  • A federal appeals court on Friday ruled against the individual mandate provision of President Obama's federal health care reform in a case brought by 26 states, including Texas. With several appeals courts having split on the provision, the new ruling virtually ensures that the case will wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • From Nate Silver, the data guru at The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog, on Twitter: "My mental odds on GOP field: Romney 4-3, Perry 3-2, Bachmann 10-1 ... Palin 40-1, Huntsman 100-1, Paul 150-1."

"[People say], you Tea Party types, y'all are angry. We're not angry — we're indignant."Rick Perry at his campaign stop in Waterloo, Iowa

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