Rick Perry
Darren Abate  /  AP
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the 28th annual National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference in San Antonio, Texas on June 23.
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updated 7/16/2011 6:31:26 PM ET 2011-07-16T22:31:26

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he think it's very likely that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will jump into the Republican presidential race and reshape the campaign for Iowa's leadoff presidential caucuses.

"I get the definite impression he's very likely to run," Branstad told The Associated Press on Saturday, basing his opinion on a conversation the two Republican governors had Friday.

Branstad said Perry told him his family wants him to run. Branstad also said he expects Perry to visit Iowa in the next month or so.

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Perry would alter the race in Iowa, were he to get in, Branstad said.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has shot to the top of state polls since entering the race last month, with early support from tea party supporters and evangelical conservatives. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also rates well in Iowa, but has signaled he plans to focus his early campaign on New Hampshire rather than Iowa. And former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has struggled to demonstrate support despite lining up top tier advisers and visiting Iowa often over the last year and a half.

Perry's pro-business profile and strong ties to the social conservative movement could help him bridge the two wings of Iowa's GOP base, Branstad said. And it doesn't hurt that he is the former Texas agriculture commissioner.

Story: Perry calling GOP leaders in N.H., Iowa

"I think he becomes a significant factor if he becomes a candidate," Branstad said. "It could change the whole complexion of the Iowa caucus race."

Perry has been making hundreds of calls in recent weeks to potential donors, activists and political figures, in recent weeks as he gathers information about a potential run.

Story: Texas governor defends prayer day after lawsuit filed

Branstad got the call from Perry while attending the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City, which Perry skipped. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is also seeking the GOP nomination but not campaigning in Iowa, met privately with Branstad in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

Branstad has been heavily courted by the Republican candidates for president visiting his state. He has said he plans to be neutral during the Iowa caucus campaign, but has left the door open to endorse a candidate before the first caucus, set for February.

Perry has also called U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and other influential Republicans in Iowa.

Top political aides to Perry have also inquired about the caucuses, as they try to quickly prepare for a potential campaign.

Perry's top consultant Dave Carney told the AP that he also has talked with people about the possibility of staffing an Iowa caucus campaign.

"I've talked to people in Iowa and potential staff people," Carney said. "We're doing that in lots of places, not just 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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