Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest unpredictable bad boy Republicans fantasize could swoop in and woo them away from their boring, suburban candidates like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. Isn't he dreamy, with that Texas drawl? The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. and Patrick O'Connor report that Perry is taking serious steps toward joining the 2012 race, feeling out whether he can raise enough cash fast enough to compete against rivals who've been stumping for months.
The story is fascinating in that it quotes Perry fans taking veiled shots at nearly all his possible competitors, but none by name, except Mitt Romney.
First up, the Journal quotes Perry himself, speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans over the weekend.
"It saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left," Mr. Perry said, touching a GOP debate over how much to highlight social issues, such as abortion or gay marriage. "Our party cannot be all things to all people."
Likely Target: Mitch Daniels. The Indiana governor called for "a truce on so-called social issues" because "We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while" during a time when economic issues are more pressing. Daniels was many conservatives' dream candidate before he decided not to run last month.
Then we get our only explicit swipes:
If it drew money and media attention, a Perry bid would make the odds all the longer for lesser-known candidates, such as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman...
"Perry probably swallows up the rest of the air in the race," said John Ryder, a member of the Republican National Committee from Tennessee. "He would give Romney a run for it."
Next, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who dropped out of the race in April, explains that Perry is already a national figure:
Barbour... said the Texas governor would "be a serious candidate, if he chooses to run," because he's "relatively well known for somebody just now thinking about running."
Target: Jon Huntsman, the latest Republican It Boy who'll announce his candidacy Tuesday. Despite a lot of fanfare, Huntsman is little known among primary voters.
The name recognition issue taken care of, we move on to personality:
Bob Haus, a Republican political strategist in Iowa who helped Mr. Thompson in 2008, thinks Mr. Perry has a good shot at winning that state's caucuses, because of his background as a rancher and his plain-spoken delivery. "He's very comfortable in his own skin," Mr. Haus said. "He never tries to be someone he's not."
Likely Target: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty is known as Mr. Nice, but he's been trying on a tough guy persona lately, as when he said President Obama needs to wear Depends during intel briefings. More critically, Pawlenty bashed Romney's health care overhaul as Obamneycare, then refused to make the same point during the Republican debate earlier this month. Pawlenty then fired back--on Twitter.
The story closes with one final shot:
Mr. Carney, a New Hampshire native who had advised Mr. Perry for years, said the governor remained truly undecided over whether he wanted to shoulder the intense burdens of a campaign.
"This isn't something you do on a lark," Mr. Carney said. "Running for the White House isn't a hobby."
Likely Target: Who could that possibly be directed at? There's the obvious: Donald Trump. But a better guess is probably Newt Gingrich, whose campaign Carney worked for before nearly the entire staff quit because Gingrich didn't want to be a full-time campaigner.