- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2011

PERRYFIED AND CHRISTIEFUL

One is a confirmed presidential hopeful likely to regain his Lone Star stride sooner or later, the other remains on the wish list of many a weary Republican. That would be Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who have ventured far from their respective state capitals via the campaign trail.

On Tuesday, Mr. Perry will be only one tantalizing block from the White House at the hoity-toity, 193-year-old Willard Hotel for a “Washington Kickoff” fundraiser hosted by some 25 lobbyists and power brokers, including Jeffrey MacKinnon, David Bockorny, and Marc Lampkin, among others. There’s a dedicated half-hour photo-op for candidate and admirers. Mr. Perry then journeys to the home of Mary and Mandell Ourisman for fundraiser No 2.

Mr. Christie, fresh from fundraising for Republican candidates in Missouri, arrives Tuesday in serious Ronald Reagan territory, at the behest of Nancy Reagan herself. Mr. Christie delivers the keynote address at a sold-out “Perspectives on Leadership Forum” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in California. But wait. The man who insists he’s not running for the White House then joins Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for a rally on Thursday.

Aides say that Mr. Christie won’t be making any big announcements, though former Jersey Gov. Thomas Keane insists his predecessor is giving serious thought to the 2012 race, and the odds he’ll jump in to the fray are “a lot better now,” according to National Review. Will the expressive Mr. Christie’s secret presidential intent show up in his face? Judge for yourself. The Reagan Library will broadcast his speech live online at 6 p.m.(Pacific Time) here: www.reaganfoundation.org

IDENTITY CRISIS

RunningMate Correspondent (a new job title at CNN) Tory Dunnan has been hired to cover the “wild ride as the GOP and President Obama fight to redefine their identities in drastically changing times.”

CAIN’S MUTINY

The buzz still resonates for cheerful Republican hopeful Herman Cain, who meets with billionaire GOP guru Donald Trump next Monday, just a day before his major memoir, “This Is Herman Cain!” is published. Meanwhile, Mr. Cain has seriously rattled the popularity polls, according to a Zogby Poll released Monday.

Rick Perry has tumbled by more than 20 percentage points over the past month among Republican presidential primary voters and is now second to Herman Cain, who leads the field with 28 percent,” reports Zogby analyst Corry Schiermeyer, who notes that the Texas governor garnered the support of 18 percent of voters, followed by Mitt Romney with 17 percent.

THE GINGRICH BREW

Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has gotten some grass-roots love: he’s won the endorsement of Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips, who staged the first major tea party convention in Nashville, Tenn., almost two years ago, to much ado, and with much media coverage.

He says Mr. Gingrich represents sound leadership and is someone who tea partyers can rely on to avoid the proverbial “Republican-in-name-only” syndrome and ultimately repeal President Obama’s health care reform. Mr. Judson hopes other tea party kingpins follow suit.

“I certainly hope Gingrich draws more endorsements from the tea party movement,” he tells Inside the Beltway. “We need someone to lead with the vision to dismantle big government once he - or she - gets in there. Gingrich has the vision to fundamentally change the federal government, to be the field general. He is the big-idea man, much as Ronald Reagan was.”

And interesting. Mr. Gingrich, now ranked third in a new CNN candidate favorability poll, stays overnight at the mansion of one South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during a campaign stay in her state next month, an invitation she has extended to all the White house contenders.

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