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Is Rick Perry winning the 'Donald Trump primary'?

Rick Perry met with Donald Trump last week. Mitt Romney is set to meet with him next week. Michele Bachmann met him in July. Why are all the Republican presidential candidates lining up?

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What do the presidential candidates hope to gain by winning?

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First, we’ll start with the most obvious thing – money. Perry packaged his trip to Trumpville with fundraising in Manhattan. Do you think prospective donors might be more open to give if they knew Perry was tight with New York’s most famous comb over? They might be – and Trump and his friends could give, too.

Second, Trump himself says they want his voters. He was briefly the front-runner himself, if you remember, and he talks as if he’s something of a political boss with a following.

“The fact is, I have a lot of people that agree with what I’m saying, and all the candidates want to have that,” Trump told Greta van Susteren on Fox News earlier this month.

Third, candidates may be vying for a coveted Trump endorsement. Trump’s blustery attacks on President Obama played well with many GOP conservatives, despite (or maybe because of) his questions about Mr. Obama’s birth certificate.

Whether he gets an actual endorsement or not, Perry already seems to have picked up some political pointers from Trump, writes Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. Trump won plaudits from Republican voters for his willingness to excoriate the current president. So far, that’s Perry’s style, too.

“The seed of Trump’s idea – casting oneself as a fighter willing to take it to Obama – is now bearing fruit for Perry,” wrote Mr. Cillizza last week.

Of course, Donald Trump is himself a master of the publicity universe, so it’s possible the dynamic here runs the other way. Maybe he’s using the GOP contenders to remain in the US 2012 presidential conversation.

He continues to act as if there’s a chance he might reconsider his decision to not run himself and toss his checkbook back into the arena. When Ms. van Susteren pressed him as to whether he might still be a candidate, Trump said this: “I would be most happy if somebody came along and just did a fantastic job ... if I don’t see that happening, I will talk to you again.”

We believe that’s a lock. There is a 100 percent chance that, sometime soon, for some reason or other, at a time and on a network of his choosing, Donald Trump will indeed talk again.

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