Buzz grows for Rick Perry to jump into presidential race

John Dickerson spoke with Russ Mitchell from the Republican Leadership Conference, where members expressed their concern for the party's future and the excitement surrounding Gov. Rick Perry's possible entrance into the 2012 presidential race.
GOP leaders worried about future generations
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Updated: 10:39 a.m. ET

Aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry are said to be sizing up the governor's prospects as a potential presidential candidate, although advisers insist the Texas Republican is "at least weeks" away from a decision.

Perry, who has been Texas' governor since George W. Bush became president, has been openly considering entering the 2012 race - particularly in light of what some Republicans see as a weakness in the current field. But questions remain as to whether or not Perry, who would enter as a relative latecomer, could raise sufficient funds and support.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Perry's team is looking at the obstacles to a potential bid, including filing deadlines in early-primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The WSJ notes that Perry's aides have specifically "made inquiries" in Iowa to analyze his prospects in the key state.

"When the governor sits down to weigh all this, he will ask: Can we raise the money? Do we have the political support? And do we have the time left to campaign?" Dave Carney, Perry's chief political strategist, wondered.

Advisers for the governor say he won't be able to fully analyze the situation until the current Texas legislative session has concluded.

"When the current [legislative] session wraps up, [Perry] will take a systematic look at what it would take to enter the race and mount a competitive effort," Carney, Perry's told the Washington Post.

Carney added that Perry would not take the decision lightly.

"We don't even know all the logistics of it. This is not a situation where you throw your hat into the ring and say 'I'm next.' There's a lot of effort that has to go into this," Carney told the Texas Tribune. "If you don't have a finance committee, people willing around the country to raise millions of dollars on their own with little support from the candidate himself because of the time constraints, then it's not going to work ... is there political support out there enough to wage battles in the early states?"

"Those are big questions," he added. "We would be running in a field with a bunch of other people who have been at this longer than we have."

Nevertheless, Perry appeared every bit the presidential contender at this weekend's Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) in New Orleans, lambasting fellow Republicans for caving to pressure from the left, and urging them to stop what he described as an "American downward spiral."

"It saddens me when sometimes my fellow Republicans duck and cover in the face of pressure from the left," Perry said on Saturday at the RLC, referencing calls for a "truce" on social issues. "Our party cannot be all things to all people," he added.

"Our opponents on the left are never going to like us, so let's quit trying to curry favor with them," he continued. Calling on party activists to "stand up" and "speak with pride about our morals and our values," he urged those present to help "stop this American downward spiral."

Invoking a common Republican refrain, Perry also argued that America had been diverted from the path intended by the Founding Fathers, and called for a restoration of "the right balance" in government.

"Our goal is to displace the entrenched powers in Washington, restore the right balance between state and federal government," he said. "We now live in this strange, inverted version of what our founders intended."

Despite the potential hurdles - among which include his late entry as well as the possible stigma of running as a Republican Texas governor in an era when George W. Bush appears to remain unpopular among many Americans - some think Perry could prove a serious contender.

Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who earlier this year announced his decision not to run for president, argued Perry would "be a serious candidate, if he chooses to run," as he is "relatively well known for somebody just now thinking about running."

"People have been looking at this Republican field, saying, this is kind of this lackluster bunch, we need someone else to run, so that's why you're seeing a lot of excitement for Rick Perry," added CBS News Political Correspondent Jan Crawford on CBS' "Early Show" Monday.

(Watch the video above.)

Still, while Perry's conservative credentials may serve him well in the Republican primaries, they may hurt him in a general election contest, as National Journal editor Ron Fournier pointed out on the "Early Show" Monday.  

"He is as he says a disciplined conservative from Texas - he would be a formidable candidate in the primary race, but in the general election he could be too far to the right for a lot of voters," Fournier said.