Image: Rick Perry, Nim Kidd
LM Otero  /  AP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, and Nim Kidd, Chief of Texas Division of Emergency Managment, looks from a window of a plane at an area burned by wildfires during a low altitude tour of Stonewall County near Swenson, Texas on April 12, 2011.
updated 7/11/2011 4:24:46 PM ET 2011-07-11T20:24:46

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has telephoned influential Republicans in early voting New Hampshire and Iowa in recent days as he weighs whether to enter the race for the GOP presidential nomination.

"He was looking for my thoughts in terms of what the presidential field looked like and what might happen if someone came in and shook things up a little bit," New Hampshire Senate President Peter Bragdon told The Associated Press on Monday after receiving a weekend voicemail message on his cell phone from Perry. "It certainly left me with the impression that he's doing his homework and giving it some serious consideration."

The conservative Texan also called several GOP leaders in Iowa, which will hold the first contest in next year's GOP presidential race. Among those contacted, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said Perry left a message for her but didn't indicate whether he planned to run.

"He looked forward to the opportunity to have a face-to-face and talk about great things that could happen in Iowa as well as the nation," Reynolds told the AP. "He just said he looked forward to seeing me soon."

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Video: Rick Perry still considering 2012 run (on this page)

Perry's efforts to reach out to Republican officeholders in both states show just how seriously he's considering a presidential run as polls suggest Republican primary voters in early voting states and elsewhere are generally underwhelmed by the current slate of candidates.

The field is largely set, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — who lost the nomination to John McCain in 2008 — ahead in most early surveys. Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, and Perry are the only two major question marks.

Perry, Texas' longest serving governor, had spent months saying that he would not seek the nomination. He reversed course several weeks ago, and has been openly considering a bid.

Last month, Perry aides began making inquiries in Iowa about the timing and rules of the state's leadoff nominating caucuses, as well as the Iowa GOP's presidential straw poll, scheduled for Aug. 13 in Ames. There also is an Iowa movement afoot to draft Perry to run; it has hired staffers to try to build support for Perry at the Ames popularity contest that could shape the race.

Video: Texas Republicans shy away from Perry (on this page)

A Perry adviser declined to comment about whom Perry is reaching out to and why.

New Hampshire conservative leader and former Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne said he spoke to Perry "for the better part of half an hour" on Saturday.

"I told him that I think this is a wide-open race. While there are some good candidates out there, I think folks are still looking," said Lamontagne, who hasn't committed to a candidate. "I have the impression that he's in the process of making a decision. Obviously he's quite serious about it."

In recent days, Perry also phoned at least four Iowa Republicans representing crucial constituencies in the leadoff caucus state.

Video: Perry contemplates run (on this page)

They include: state Rep. Stewart Iverson, a former Iowa Senate president and past state GOP chairman; Joni Scotter, an activist known for her volunteer work who was a top backer of Romney's 2008 campaign; and Steve Scheffler, a leading Iowa social conservative and Republican National Committee member.

Perry also invited Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Reynolds to the day of prayer planned for Aug. 6 in Houston. The pair said they are unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

It's one of several high-profile public appearances Perry has added to his schedule as he weighs a bid.

His next scheduled appearance in New Hampshire, home to the nation's first presidential primary, is an Oct. 28 keynote dinner address before the conservative interest group Cornerstone. He has no plans, thus far, to visit Iowa.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Rick Perry still considering 2012 run

  1. Closed captioning of: Rick Perry still considering 2012 run

    >>> republican field for 2012 may be set, but there's a gop figure in an even bigger state who could still shake up the primaries. rick perry 's advisers are putting together information to help the texas governor decide whether the momentum and perhaps more importantly the money are there to make the run for the white house a reality. richard fowler is a democratic strategist and sherry jacobis is a republican strategist and a columnist for "the hill." thanks for joining us. so the christian right leaders want rick perry to throw his hat, maybe the ten-gallon hat, i haven't seen fashion pictures of him lately, into the ring. he's planning a christian prayer event august. who do you think the bigger threat to obama is? perry from texas or romney who is really out in front on the economy?

    >> well, i don't think either are a big threat to romney . when it comes to rick perry throwing his prayer fest, i'm not really sure what that's going to do for him. at the end of the day , the budget of texas is still taking on water. you know, he might be a good fund-raiser, but i'm not sure if he has the capability to moupt a campaign that could defeat mitt romney .

    >> sheerry, who do you like?

    >> i do like perry . i think this could be bad news for pawlenty. your top tier would be romney , bachmann and perry and all three are bad news for president obama .

    >> why perry ?

    >> well, perry 's good because out of -- since 2009 , 37% of all the new jobs created nationwide have been in the state of texas . so that's pretty darn good. he's got a very good record. in terms of the christian leaders liking him, that certainly helps him. but my sense, my opinion is that the christian conservative vote could very easily be split amongst several candidates in the field. the top three, in fact, which is a good thing. i think people care about the economy, obviously for moral reasons and family reasons that people want jobs. they want everybody to be able to work and support their family. so there's something about perry that can appeal to christian conserve piatie conservatives, tea partiers and that's the big uniting issue and perry can be strong on that. that's why a perry candidacy would be horrific for obama .

    >> i disagree here, though. at the end of the day , though --

    >> shocking.

    >> when it comes down to it, i don't think perry 's right for the republican ticket. i think he's going to have a hard time convincing rank-and-file republicans to join him. you know, since he's been governor, we've seen -- even though people say they're creating a lot of jobs to texas , no what avail? he's cut education by 30%, made tons of cuts. the only reason is because of president obama 's stimulus dollars.

    >> yeah, those stimulus dollars are not creating jobs in this country. we don't have all those shovel-ready projects. there's a lot of people standing in line waiting for these jobs that the president promised. and i don't think that you've got more than 14 million unemployed americans are going to go to the polls next fall -- or in the fall of 2012 and pull the lever for a president who's failed to create jobs that they so greatly need. they may like obama personally, but that's just not going to happen.

    >> perry is waging a big battle on the border. there are more agents, more drones, more high-technical ras than ever before. yet the illegal flow of people and the drug problem is worse than ever. this can come back to haunt him in a presidential run, can't it?

    >> well, unless things start turning around. i think the fact that there's an effort being made where in the past many people feel there has not been enough of an effort made on the border. that can certainly help him. if he's sort of trending in the right direction, that's going to help him a lot. but people do want results. but if he's got results on jobs and on budgets, then he can start getting results along the border. and you've got a large segment of the christian right that like him. and he's going to be good for independents and some democrats, you know, you might be looking at the next president. but i think at a minimum, he can give romney and bachmann a run for their money. they all have a lot of strength. so i'd be pretty happy with that as our first tier.

    >> richard, final word.

    >> well, you know, she talks about governor perry , you know, his work on the budget. he really hasn't done any work on the budget. the budget is basically taking on water if it weren't for the stimulus dollars. under obama we've seen 240 million jobs created. at the end of the day , i don't think any candidate in the gop field will face the challenge to the president. i can't wait to see his fund-raising numbers with the momentum that will take him into 2012 and into another term.

    >> thanks for joining us.

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