The former Texas governor summons Washington’s right-leaning opinion-makers ahead of a likely 2016 campaign announcement.
Darren McCollester / Getty
Rick Perry's aides are quietly inviting conservative journalists to an off-the-record happy hour in Washington next week — an event that some invitees believe will serve as prelude to the former Texas governor's presidential campaign announcement.
Emails from the Perry camp — one of which was passed along to BuzzFeed News — instruct recipients that they must RSVP to learn the exact location of the April 21 gathering, and include a note that the invitation is "not transferable."
Writers at the Washington Examiner, TheBlaze, Breitbart News, Townhall, and RedState, among others, have received invites.
At least some of the invitations were sent by Erin DeLullo, a Republican fundraiser and operative who recently joined Perry's political action committee as "national coalitions director." DeLullo — who has worked for conservative insurgents like Sen. Ted Cruz and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — specializes in connecting Tea Party-aligned candidates with well-funded, influential institutions on the right, like Club for Growth. Her portfolio will also apparently include working to generate buzz for Perry in Washington's conservative press, where many harbor doubts about his 2016 prospects.
Perry entered the last presidential race to much fanfare in late 2011, but his repeated viral gaffes and painfully clumsy debate performances — combined with an immigration position that some conservatives found heretical — led to one of the more spectacular meltdowns of the 2012 Republican primaries. And while his record of job-creation in Texas and deep ties to the Religious Right make him a well-regarded figure to many in his party, Perry's flame-out continues to loom large.
"There's huge skepticism," said one of the conservative journalists invited to the happy hour, adding, "Everyone likes him, but they don't think he has a shot."
The invitee said Perry's happy hour will likely be aimed at persuading conservative opinion-makers that his imminent presidential bid is a credible one. But he believes Cruz's entry into the race gives Perry little room to maneuver. "Most have already cast their lot with a tough-talking conservative from Texas. And it's not Perry," he said.
DeLullo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
I wanted to invite you to an off the record happy hour with Governor Perry on April 21st from 4:00-5:00pm.
Please rsvp by April 19th and I'll send you the location.
This invitation is not transferable
Feel free to contact me with any questions.