In Texas, Rick Perry Lays The Foundation For His Possible 2016 Run

Posted: Dec 03, 2014 1:15 PM

It’s pretty clear that Rick Perry is going to run for president–or is seriously considering it–by the time the 2016 election season begins. The soon-to-be ex-Governor of Texas is flying in donors and policy wonks for a series of “December sessions,” according to Politico.

The sessions, taking place in Austin, are to assure the deep-pocketed GOP donors that Perry is a) a serious candidate and b) to show them that he has learned from his mistakes from 2012–and it will be an entirely different campaign. Though many donors still like Perry, it’s not just him running, or thinking about running, in 2016; the field is quite crowded–and with good solid candidates to boot:

The small-group sessions kick off Tuesday and Wednesday in Austin with a pair of lunches and dinners held in the governor’s mansion wedged between policy briefings at the nearby office of Perry senior adviser Jeff Miller. In all, Perry’s team expects he will meet in person with more than 500 major donors and bundlers from around the country in December as well as a slew of operatives, Republican National Committee members and policy experts.

Things would be different if he ran again, say sources who have interacted with the three-term governor, who is leaving the office after having held it longer than any other person in Texas history. They describe his health as “tip-top” and his policy expertise as light years ahead of where it was in the last presidential cycle — all of which he intends to highlight in his December donor meetings.

“If Gov. Perry is going to run, he’s going to be better prepared, and he’s going to have the resources necessary to compete,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican national committeeman who is helping plan for a Perry 2016 campaign and organizing next week’s donor sessions.

After next week, there will be an additional four or five sessions throughout the month, as well as an array of briefings held at Miller’s office with policy experts from leading conservative think tanks, such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution, according to those familiar with the planning.

The sources said Perry has been receiving twice-a-week briefings on different policy areas for months, including one on health care this past week in Austin featuring leading Obamacare critic Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute. Perry also has been briefed —both in Austin and over the phone — by Lanhee Chen, the highly regarded policy director for Romney’s 2012 campaign, who authored a 172-page job-creation outline for Romney and likely would have played a leading role in a Romney White House.

It's still not a done deal. Some donors are waiting to hear what former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has to say regarding his 2016 ambitions, others are waiting for Sen. Marco Rubio, and the rest are waiting to hear from other candidates before they make a decision.

One lobbyist quoted in the piece said, “He is a good guy, but Perry’s time has passed.”

Also, if Jeb does decide to run, his fundraising network virtually overlaps Perry’s–and there’s some bad blood given that the Bush family backed former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s failed gubernatorial primary challenge in 2010.

Nonetheless, Rick Perry has held more events in Iowa than any other candidate considered to be a contender for the 2016 Republican nomination.