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The Brief: Sept. 30, 2011

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears closer than ever to mounting a presidential run. So what does it mean for Rick Perry?

Gov. Rick Perry campaigns at a private reception in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with family members standing by.

The Big Conversation:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appears closer than ever to mounting a presidential run. So what does it mean for Rick Perry?

The rampant speculation about Christie's long-rumored presidential ambitions reached new heights this week as a monied, influential wing of the Republican Party — still dissatisfied with Mitt Romney and turned off by Gov. Rick Perry's performance on the national stage — renewed its calls for him to enter the race. Sources close to Christie, who for months had flatly denied any interest in running (and had even called himself unprepared for the role), this week said he'd begun "reconsidering" his plans. Conflicting reports soon followed as Christie embarked on a national tour.

But the Star-Ledger of New Jersey reported Thursday night that a source close to the governor said Christie is indeed seriously considering a run. The governor was reportedly spurred, in part, by a conversation he had with former first lady Nancy Reagan.

Christie, known for his brash style, has curried favor with Tea Party and establishment Republicans alike since winning the governor's race in 2009. But how would Christie the Candidate's chances and politics stack up against those of Romney and Perry?

Nate Silver of The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight writes that Christie, as the Republican governor of a blue state, would likely compete more directly with Romney for voters than with Perry. Christie would also challenge Romney's perceived hold on the Northeast in a Republican primary.

Depending on Perry's performance, the race could either then turn into a two-man race between Christie and Romney, with Perry relegated to picking up a few states in the South, or into a tangled three-man race with Christie and Romney splitting the moderate and establishment vote and Perry cleaning up with social conservatives.

But as Politico notes, Christie would lack the organizational support that Perry had built by the time he entered the race. He'd also lack an early-voting state where he'd start with an advantage, like New Hampshire for Romney or South Carolina for Perry.

Money, though, might be less of an issue for Christie. At least 40 major Republican donors, according to Politico, have said they'll be waiting for him if he decides to run. “This is not going to be a problem,” one donor said. “There’s just so much money on the sidelines.”

Culled:

  • A federal panel in San Antonio ruled Thursday that the state can't move forward with its proposed congressional and legislative maps until a federal court in Washington, D.C., rules on the matter. This means Texas election officials won't have to meet a Saturday deadline to get ballots in order.
  • A new web video by Mitt Romney attacks Rick Perry for the law he signed in Texas extending in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. The ad says Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid all support Perry's decision and includes the clip of Perry at last week's Republican debate telling critics of the law, "I don't think you have a heart."
  • A new SurveyUSA Florida poll, conducted Sunday through Tuesday, shows Rick Perry in third place with 13 percent of the vote, behind Mitt Romney, at 27 percent, and Herman Cain, at 25 percent. The firm notes that the results, which were gathered in the days immediately after Cain pulled off an unexpected win at the the Florida Straw Poll on Saturday, "may reflect a genuine surge for Cain or may reflect the fact Cain was on the front page of every Florida newspaper on Sunday 09/25/11 and at the top of many Florida newscasts during the field period for the survey."

"I knew when I got into this race I would have my hands full fighting President Obama's big government agenda. I just didn't think it would be in the Republican primary." — A line Rick Perry is set to deliver today in his first domestic policy speech, according to The Associated Press

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