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The Brief: Aug. 24, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry, who started a major fundraising push from home this week, is hoping to pick off supporters of a certain Republican who many are still hoping will jump into the race.

Gov. Rick Perry campaigns at a private Republican reception in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Aug. 15, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

Gov. Rick Perry, who started a major fundraising push from home this week, is hoping to pick off supporters of a certain Republican who many are still hoping will jump into the race.

After a week of nonstop campaigning in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, Perry returned to Austin on Saturday to take a break and to raise money, which he'll need to compete with his Republican rivals, most of whom have been running for months.

As RealClearPolitics reports today, Perry on Tuesday called a group of Iowa donors who have spent months urging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who has emerged as a darling of both moderate and conservative wings of the Republican Party — to run for president. Though Christie has flatly and repeatedly denied for months that he has any intentions of running, he has held the attention of many Republicans dissatisfied with the current field of candidates.

“Right now, it’s a wide open race and I haven’t seen anybody catch fire yet, but out of the chute, I think Perry is looking the best,” one Christie supporter told RealClearPolitics. “If I had to make a drop-dead decision today, I’d go for Perry.”

Rounding up supporters of Christie — who has inevitably been named as a possible vice presidential candidate — could prove invaluable for Perry, whom many Republicans have begun to doubt in light of concerns over his electability and aggressive brand of conservatism.

As for the fundraising, The Dallas Morning News reports today that some Perry staffers have willingly forgone their salaries until the campaign starts bringing in more money. To do so, Perry — who must contend with federal campaign finance rules, which differ from Texas rules — will likely rely on bundlers, or supporters who collect checks from their own network of donors.

“The response has been overwhelming,” Attorney General Greg Abbott, one of Perry's bundlers, told the Morning News. “People are extremely enthusiastic.”

Meanwhile, Perry now leads among Republicans in an Iowa and national GOP poll, which Public Policy Polling released Tuesday. Perry's lead in Iowa, 22 percent to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 19 percent and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's 18 percent, could lend him new momentum as he heads back to the Hawkeye State next week.

Culled:

  • The Tribune's Ross Ramsey reported Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul may enter the U.S. Senate race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison. In a statement, McCaul neither confirmed nor denied the plans, saying only, "My goal remains to ensure that the most qualified person represents Texas in the United States Senate." McCaul — the richest member of Congress, as Roll Call reported earlier this month — has reportedly told Republicans that he's prepared to spend $4 million to $6 million of his own money, which he'd likely need to keep up with the race's monied front-runner, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
  • In anticipation of today's major University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting, conservative groups met at the Capitol on Tuesday to call for transparency in higher education and to denounce "frivolous" research projects and faculty tenure. "From our perspective, we believe that it is time that universities take their heads out of the sand," said Peggy Venable, the state director of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a conservative advocacy group.
  • Though extreme drought conditions still grip the state, some Texans still haven't taken notice. In Houston, the Chronicle reports, water use has exceeded the monthly daily average every day since Mayor Annise Parker last week instated mandatory watering restrictions.

"I’ve never heard anyone in my family say anything but good things about Rick Perry." — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Fox Business Network on Tuesday

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