Perry plans visits to S.C., N.H.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (shown speaking at a town hall meeting in Nashua) said yesterday there’s nothing to question about a $1 million gift to his campaign. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (shown speaking at a town hall meeting in Nashua) said yesterday there’s nothing to question about a $1 million gift to his campaign. (Jim Cole/ Associated Press)
August 9, 2011

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AUSTIN, Texas - Leaning toward a full-fledged presidential run, Governor Rick Perry of Texas will visit at least two early-primary states - South Carolina and New Hampshire - on Saturday, at the same time most of his would-be opponents are competing in an important test vote in Iowa.

In recent weeks, the conservative Texan has inched closer to a run, privately telling told GOP donors, leaders, and activists that he was likely to enter the race for the GOP nomination. His upcoming speaking schedule - and the timing of it on the day of the Iowa straw poll - confirms as much.

Three Republicans close to Perry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose his plans, said it’s all but certain the governor will run and his schedule is intended to put to rest doubt about his bid.

A fourth person, also with links to the governor, said a formal announcement is tentatively planned for the middle of next week in Houston.

But that Republican said Perry won’t go forward with a campaign if he can’t secure enough financial commitments by this weekend. The person did not say how much Perry would need to guarantee he’d run, just that big-money donors - called bundlers - were given the go-ahead to start getting people to pledge money.

All four cautioned that Perry hasn’t made a final decision.

Perry’s staff refused to discuss his plans beyond issuing a statement from spokesman Mark Miner: “The governor is not a candidate for office at this time. With President Obama’s dismal economic record, and Texas’s success in creating jobs and balancing our budget, Governor Perry continues to consider a potential run for the White House. Stay tuned.’’

Perry’s advisers have been laying the groundwork for a campaign in early-primary states and honing a strategy. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Questions on $1m gift are answered, Romney says MANCHESTER, N.H. - Mitt Romney said a controversy that erupted after a supporter anonymously donated $1 million to a political action committee supporting the Republican presidential contender ended when the contributor identified himself over the weekend.

“It’s not much of a question anymore,’’ Romney told reporters yesterday in both Concord and Manchester. “There’s no controversy.’’

Nonetheless, two campaign finance watchdog groups, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, which last week called for investigations by the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice, said they wanted them to continue.

The donation burst into public view after Politico reported it and NBC News revealed last week that the corporation making it, W Spann LLC, dissolved after contributing to a pro-Romney political action committee, Restore Our Future PAC.

W Spann LLC existed as a legal entity for four months, allowing it to shield the disclosure of the donor’s name.

The donor, Edward Conard, identified himself Friday. He is a former executive with Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney started in the 1980s.

Romney described Conard as a longtime business associate and friend. “I was hoping he’d make a contribution and confident he would make a contribution,’’ Romney said, noting that Conard has donated to his campaigns in the past. — SHIRA SCHOENBERG top stories on Twitter

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