The Republican field for the White House is starting to solidify, but there are still two conservative rock stars with the ability to shake up the race if they get in.
The teasers? Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
When Palin embarked on a bus tour last month of national historical sites, she stirred up more buzz that she’s seriously considering a run for the White House.
But many Republicans say that they’d be surprised if Palin actually runs.
“I think it’s much more likely Perry runs and Palin does not,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant with offices in Texas and Washington, D.C.
Perry’s top strategist, Dave Carney, told reporters that there is about a 50-50 chance that Perry will jump in the race.
In a race where no one candidate has really consolidated the anti-Mitt Romney vote, Perry could fill the vacuum, observers say. (Perry to TSA: Don’t mess with Texas junk)
“I think he’s increasingly convinced that he needs to run,” Mackowiak said. “There is not a strong candidate who is both conservative and can win the nomination.”
The latest to officially join the crowded race is former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who announced his candidacy Tuesday in New Jersey with the Statue of Liberty as his backdrop.
As for Palin, the latest sign of her actual thinking of a run came last week, when a blogger for the American Spectator reported that she would make a decision soon. Palin shot that report down.
“Really? Hmm, guess they forgot to inform me what I’m ‘expected to do’ next wk,” Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, wrote on Twitter Friday afternoon.
On her bus tour, Palin repeatedly told reporters that she honestly hasn’t decided whether she wants in.
Ford O’Connell, the chairman of CivicForumPAC, said he doesn’t think Fox News would have continued to let Palin be a contributor if she really was planning on getting in the race. And he said the entrance of Michele Bachmann in the race — and how well she’s been received so far by Republicans — also could deter Palin.
“She’s made a good first impression,” he said of Bachmann. “I think that first impression would hurt Sarah Palin a little bit.” (Carville on Perry: He talks a lot and he’s not very bright)
As for Perry, O’Connell acknowledged concerns that Perry whose Texas swagger closely resembles that of former President George W. Bush, but said: “America may not be ready for another cowboy president, but Rick Perry could certainly change that.”
Aside from Palin and Perry, there are others hinting about a run.
They include former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, former New York Governor George Pataki and Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, who ruled out a run, is also reportedly reconsidering his decision.
Ryan Hecker, who is active in the Tea Party movement, said there will not be a monolithic Tea Party candidate, but acknowledged many are waiting to see what Perry and Palin decide.
“There needs to be a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney,” he said
“It could end up being Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain or Tim Pawlenty, but I think someone of the stature of Rick Perry or Sarah Palin would definitely be added to that mix too.”