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The 2016 GOP Field: Clear or Unsettled?

And with a busy December, Rick Perry makes clear that he plans a different kind of campaign for the White House the second time around.

Gov. Rick Perry adjusts his glasses during his appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 21.

The two quotes featured to the right of this story, each taken from a major national paper this week, neatly encapsulate what would appear to be contradictory positions inside the GOP on the emerging 2016 presidential field.

The one from Virginia GOP fundraiser Bobbie Kilberg ("If you are philosophically a center-right donor, I think you have an interest in clearing the field...") has the feel of wishful thinking. After having seen Mitt Romney hobbled by the feeding frenzy among the GOP primary field in 2012, more than a few big donors are hoping to see a single, consensus establishment candidate emerge to take some of the uncertainty out of the primary process.

Whether that turns out to be Romney or the other establishment-favored candidates, Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, is not as important as that someone emerges who has the potential to “clear the field.”

The second quote from former Romney adviser Dan Senor ("This is going to be chaotic and cluttered for some time.") acknowledges instead the hesitancy of the big GOP donors about committing early not just because of uncertainty about which establishment candidates will run but also because of uncertainty about who outside of the establishment fold will run.

One of those non-establishment candidates would be Gov. Rick Perry, who is taking the month of December to position himself as both a more thoughtful candidate and a more committed conservative on the issue of immigration.

Perry has been sitting down with reporters this week to showcase this new and improved brand. Perhaps the most interesting of the pieces for Texas political observers is his interview with Philip Rucker of the Washington Post.

For instance, the piece posits that Perry plans to use the first few months of his post-gubernatorial life “to make serious money.” That would involve making speeches, writing a memoir and serving on corporate boards.

The other interesting observation is Rucker writing that Perry’s wife, Anita, “is pushing her husband to run.”

Readers will recall that Anita Perry similarly spurred her husband to action with his first run for the White House. Perry later described his wife as saying to him, “Get out of your comfort zone.”

One thing has remained constant over the past few months. Despite all the travel and the parade of policy tutorials in Austin, Perry maintains he is in no hurry to make public a decision to run.

In the Post interview and in a separate interview with The Associated Press this week, Perry continued to indicate that it will be another six months or so before he decides.

In that talk with the AP, Perry seems comfortable with people assuming he plans to run.

"People think we're going to run, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.” Perry said.

In the aftermath of his 2012 run, Perry said one of his big regrets was to wait too long to enter the race. He waited until August of 2011 before jumping into the contest.

While he might not announce officially until June, his unofficial prep work — whether it’s granting interviews or lining up supporters for his Super PAC — gives at least some indication how he plans this time around to address this central self critique from four years ago.

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