New Orleans, LA–On the final day of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here, it was easy to sense who the enthusiasm was for and talk at the Hilton Hotel focused on: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has hinted for nearly two weeks that he may enter the Republican presidential sweepstakes. Even before the 61-year-old Perry addressed the gathering of more than 2000 GOP activists here, there were growing signs that he would soon “make the plunge.”
Last night, HUMAN EVENTS learned that, along with his speech, Perry would have a closed-door meeting with office-holders and party officials from throughout the South who are attending the SRLC. According to one of the participants who requested anonymity, “We are going to make a strong appeal for Gov. Perry to get into the race.'” In addition, Politico’s Mike Allen reported that supporters of the Texan were making inquiries into the possibility of his making a late entry into the Iowa caucuses–a contest that presumed front-runner Mitt Romney has said he will bypass.
Tennessee’s Republican National Committeeman John Ryder and wife Lane spoke for many when they told us how much they enjoyed the presidential hopefuls yesterday, but were anxious to see Rick Perry today.
“Let’s see what Gov. Perry will do,” said John Ryder, who wore an “I Love Freidrich Hayek” T-shirt as he spoke to us. “This talk of him getting into the race is exciting.”
“I know my saying this won’t help him, but he reminds me of George W. Bush.,” Lane Ryder said, “and what I mean is he comes across as honest and plain-spoken. From what I read, he does come from a very different background from George Bush and is more conservative. But his demeanor would make a strong contrast to Obama.”
Mrs. Ryder added that while “I loved Herman Cain yesterday, I am exciting about listening to Rick Perry.”
“I want him to run–you bet I do,” Mississippi Lt. Governor Phil Hardy told HUMAN EVENTS, “He knows how to govern and he knows how to created jobs. And he’s a campaigner–when he and his wife get up on the stage at the convention to accept nomination, I think there might be just a feeling of excitement that people would levitate out of their chairs. I wanted [Mississippi Gov.] Haley [Barbour] to run very much. But now I’m now saying ‘run, Rick, run!'”