Will Rick Perry join the presidential race?

Supporters are urging Texas Gov. Rick Perry to seek the GOP nomination for the 2012 presidential race. He's fueled speculation by making high-profile appearances around the country.

Gregory Bull/AP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry looks on during a speech at a Boy Scout ceremony June 29 aboard the USS Midway in San Diego. Supporters are urging Gov. Perry to enter the race for the White House.

The clock is ticking on Rick Perry.

When the charismatic governor of Texas suggested, in late May, that he might run for president, he said he would make a decision after the state legislature had finished its session. That has now happened.

But Governor Perry is still weighing his options. And some of his fans are hoping they can sway him. An independent “draft Perry” group, called Americans for Rick Perry, is raising money and working on acquiring vendor space at the Ames, Iowa, straw poll in August to press their case.

IN PICTURES: Will these Republicans run in 2012?

“I’m looking at the field at it is, and I think it’s a pretty good field,” says Bob Schuman, the San Diego-based GOP consultant who started the group, speaking by phone from Iowa. “But when Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels decided not to go, I really felt like there was a void.”

Those three men – the governor of Mississippi, former governor of Arkansas, and current governor of Indiana – were all seen as credible potential contenders, and all decided they didn’t have the fire in the belly to run for president. Perry may ultimately wind up in that club as well. But Mr. Schuman, who held senior positions in the presidential campaigns of former Rep. Jack Kemp and former Sen. Phil Gramm, wanted to get something going on Perry’s behalf while he decides.

Presidential draft efforts are difficult. The last person to be drafted into running for president who actually reached the Oval Office was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. In fact, his Democratic opponent, Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, had also been drafted into the race. In the 2004 cycle, Democrat Wesley Clark (another retired general) was lured into the race on a draft movement, as was former Sen. Fred Thompson (R) of Tennessee four years later, but neither caught on in a big way.

“Thompson didn’t want to run that hard, and he wasn’t the best candidate,” says Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University. General Clark had never run for office before, and “was kind of an eclectic choice.”

But Perry, he says, is an ambitious politician who’s good on the stump and has never lost a race. Indeed, Perry has fueled speculation that he will run by making high-profile appearances around the country. And he has now said he will attend a key GOP event in September, the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in Michigan.

Perry brings to the table 10 and a half years as Texas governor, a strong record of job creation, and the social-issue positions of a religious conservative. Many tea party activists are clamoring for Perry to run.

With no disrespect to the current GOP front-runner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Schuman says, “I just think at this point, we need a stronger candidate who can pull the party together in a lot of ways. I just don’t see that happening yet.”

Americans for Rick Perry filed its paperwork with the IRS on June 14, and aims to raise $500,000 by Aug. 1, and $5 million total. Schuman says he has 2 and a half fundraisers on the job, all in Texas, and more coming on board in other cities next week.

IN PICTURES: Will these Republicans run in 2012?

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