Lee Celano/REUTERS
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans Saturday.

Is it too late for Rick Perry to get into presidential race?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry probably still has a few weeks to decide whether he wants to run for president. Several factors give him more leeway that other candidates might have had.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry sounds more like a presidential candidate by the day. This weekend he gave a rousing speech at the Republican Leadership Conference in which he blasted the Obama administration as a bunch of smarty-pants busy-bodies.

“They clearly think they know best,” said Governor Perry. “And let me tell you, I vehemently disagree. They don’t know best.”

As he kept speaking he was interrupted by audience members chanting “Run Rick, Run!”

But here’s a question: Is it too late for Gov. Perry to throw his drawl into the ring?

Probably not. But his deadline for making a decision is fast approaching.

It gets late early when it comes to running for president, to paraphrase baseball great Yogi Berra. That’s because it takes time to put together a staff and rustle up a posse of donors. As we’ve noted previously, since 1960 White House wannabes who went on to win their party’s presidential nomination announced their candidacy 15.4 months prior to the general election, on average.

Count backward from November 2012, and that puts you in mid-July 2011. So by this calculation, Perry has a couple of weeks to make up his mind.

However, there are a number of reasons why Perry in particular might be able to hem and haw a bit longer than your average presidential hopeful. For one thing, he’s got a shovel-ready campaign organization: the ex-staff of Newt Gingrich. A number of the aides who constituted the top level of the Gingrich campaign once worked for Perry. When they quit en masse earlier this month, it led to a lot of talk that they were getting ready to return to Perry’s employ.

For another thing, Perry shouldn’t have any trouble lassoing cash. That’s not just because Texas is full of stereotypical conservative oil millionaires. It’s also due to the fact that if he runs it is quite possible Perry will have access to the family network of fellow Texan George Bush.

Finally, being southern may give Perry an inherent electoral advantage over the northerners, easterners, and Utahan (or is it Utahn?) that make up the rest of the field.

Southern candidates are more likely to win Southern primaries than Midwestern candidates are to win Midwestern primaries, Eastern candidates are to win Eastern primaries, and so forth, points out New York Times political numbers blogger Nate Silver. That means Perry would have a bigger home field advantage than, say, Mitt Romney.

Plus, the GOP electorate in Iowa, that all-important first caucus state, is about 60 percent born-again Christian. That’s the same as many Southern states, points out Mr. Silver.

Perry thus might do well in Iowa, follow that with strong performances in South Carolina and Florida, and emerge as the front-runner only weeks into the 2012 nomination campaign.

Still, Perry might decide that it's not worth it, given that the nation as a whole might not yet be ready for another former Texas governor in the White House. A former top Perry aide, Dave Carney, said recently that he thinks it's 50-50 as to whether Perry will run.

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