Can Rick Perry Texas Two-Step His Way to the Nomination?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is giving off strong signals indicating that he intends to plunge into the 2012 presidential race.

Potential donors who could bundle money for him will meet this week in Texas. Perry also went  again to California in order to meet with donors from the political ATM state. And Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics reported that an outside group composed of some former Newt Gingrich staffers in Iowa are laying down the groundwork to introduce Iowans to Perry before the important August Straw Poll in Ames. According to some reports, some in Perry’s camp then insinuated they were not going to have a significant presence before Ames, perhaps to lower or dampen expectations that could congeal with more of such stories.

This weekend, The Des Moines Register reported that Perry said he was “getting more and more comfortable every day” about entering the 2012 presidential contest and that he believes “this is what I’ve been called to do … this is what America needs.”

On Monday, Jason Embry of the Austin American-Statesman reported that Perry said:

There’s a lot of different ways to be called … My mother may call me for dinner. My friends may call me for something. There are people that are calling from all across this country into either me directly or to people that they know and saying, ‘Man, we wish you would consider doing this.’

Trying to have it both ways on a variety of statements and issues seems to be a hallmark of Perry’s.

He cleverly walked the line between “secede” and “succeed” in riling up GOP primary voters in Texas.

When religious leaders, who have made controversial statements regarding Muslims, committed to attend his day of prayer at Reliant Stadium in Houston in August, Perry, according to the Austin American-Statesman, said, “I’m sure that in elections in the past there have been some groups that have endorsed me publicly that I appreciate their endorsement, but their endorsement of me doesn’t mean I endorse what they believe in or what they say…So I kind of put this in the same category as that.”

On issues concerning gays, Perry said he would be in favor of a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, yet wrote in his book Fed Up that such issues should be left up to the states.

On immigration, Perry made statements in the past that were favorable to the DREAM Act and against Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law before again taking harsh stances on immigration during the most recent legislative session.

Perry and his team are savvy. They know these issues will cause the mainstream media to write negative stories about Perry, which will, in turn, gain him the favor of social and limited-government conservatives who dominate Republican primaries. His two-step is one that often lurches toward the more populist Tea Party crowd before soothing the establishment members of the GOP who fret about an unadulterated Tea Party candidate’s chances in a general election.

This two-step act also carries risks as well. It could begin a narrative that Perry is a phony politician who lacks a core, which is an image that voters loathe in this election cycle.