Rick Perry may not be ready to announce a presidential run just yet, but an advocacy group designed to bolster his increasingly likely candidacy isn’t waiting for him to make a decision: It is already laying the groundwork for him in the nation’s first voting state of Iowa.
Americans for Rick Perry — a 527 group that is prohibited from having direct contact with the Texas governor — is set to open its headquarters in West Des Moines this week under a lease that will run through the Aug. 13 Ames Straw Poll.
The Iowa branch of the pro-Perry group is composed of a few volunteers and seven paid staffers, most of whom played key roles in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Iowa operation before resigning as a group last month amid differences with the candidate over the direction of his struggling campaign.
Perry has not indicated whether he would appear himself in Ames for next month’s straw poll — an important test of early support for candidates who choose to participate — but the operatives running the Iowa branch of Americans for Rick Perry intend to spend the next four weeks preparing to have a significant presence at the first major spectacle of the 2012 campaign.
“Our goal is to share information both before and during the event about Governor Perry’s record and to continue to generate enthusiasm if he runs for president,” explained the group’s executive director in the state, Craig Schoenfeld.
Six candidates purchased tent space for the Ames Straw Poll, which serves as a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa.