Perry pooh-poohs VP nod as top donors meet to discuss his presidential chances

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday all but ruled out accepting the vice presidential slot as leading donors gathered in Austin to weigh his presidential chances.

Almost 50 Republican donors met to discuss how Perry could raise the money needed to compete in the Republican presidential primary, should he decide to run.

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Tuesday’s donor gathering is the latest indication Perry could make a move soon. The donors met in small groups throughout the day to figure out if and how Perry can raise the millions needed for the campaign, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The donors include some prominent Republican money bundlers who have yet to commit to a GOP candidate, as well as Perry backers.

When asked whether he was willing to run for vice president, Perry laughed and strongly suggested he wasn’t interested.

“You kinda [ask the question]: Vice president [or] governor of Texas — that kinda answers itself,” Perry said. “John Nance Garner had a pretty good handle on that.”

The comment referenced Texas native and former Vice President John Nance Garner’s famous statement that the VP office “wasn’t worth a bucket of warm piss.”

Perry has been moving toward a presidential run since early summer, stoking speculation with a series of comments — both from himself and allies — suggesting he is seriously considering the race.

He continued to fuel the rumors Monday, saying he was “going through a thoughtful, steady process of making a decision” about the race — a comment that comes two days after he said he was getting “more and more comfortable every day” with the idea of running.

Perry could shake up the race in a big way: He has a large network of donors, strong appeal to social conservatives and close ties to the Tea Party movement, which could cut into the early polling lead Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has built up in Iowa.

He also is seen as a more seasoned candidate than Bachmann by some in the Republican establishment, meaning those unhappy with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney but looking for a polished alternative might back the three-term governor of the second-most-populous state.

According to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, Perry would enter the race with fairly high name recognition for a new candidate. He already is known to as many Republican primary voters as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has been campaigning for months.

Perry also is well-liked by those Republicans who know him. According to the poll, Perry has a higher “positive intensity” score, which measures enthusiasm about a candidate by those who know them, than every candidate but businessman Herman Cain. Perry edges out Bachmann and leads Romney by a solid spread.

But Perry’s had some problems uniting the party in his home state.

In 2010 he faced a primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), a longtime foe. Perry took 51 percent of the vote, while Hutchison took 31 percent and Tea Party candidate Debra Medina took 19. He won reelection in 2006 with a 39 percent plurality, with another one-time Republican running as an independent taking 18 percent.

His margins of victory in the two races were strong, but these challenges show that many business-oriented Texas Republicans aren’t completely happy with him.

Perry has planned a “day of prayer and fasting” for early August at Houston’s 71,500-seat Reliant Stadium that could be a testing ground to see how he fares on a national stage. He could make an announcement about his candidacy soon after that.

This story was originally posted at 2 p.m. and has been updated.