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Perry and Bachmann Compete for Iowa Spotlight

Governor Rick Perry greets a Republican woman at the Electric Park Ballroom on August 14th on his arrival in Iowa.
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune
Governor Rick Perry greets a Republican woman at the Electric Park Ballroom on August 14th on his arrival in Iowa.

Michele Bachmann may have won the Ames Straw Poll, but Rick Perry is getting the rock star treatment in Iowa.

Perry was all but mobbed by reporters — from Iowa and around the nation — when he arrived at the Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo, Bachmann’s hometown and site of the Black Hawk County Lincoln Day Dinner.

The event comes only a day after Perry officially leapt into the 2012 presidential race — and a day after Bachman won the Straw Poll. 

There’s a big expectation that the two candidates will have some encounter on stage. Perry briefly shook hands with another candidate, Rick Santorum, but Bachman apparently had not yet arrived by about 6 p.m.

Perry, working the crowd, seemed to relish meeting Iowa voters. Perry could be heard telling reporters over the din that he knew he would be spending a lot of time here.

"He loves retail politics, loves talking to real people, shaking hands,” said spokesman Ray Sullivan. “He really likes this part of campaigning and for those of us tagging along it’s fun to watch. Some people have that personality trait — I don’t.”

Sullivan is leaving his state job as Perry’s chief of staff so he can he become the communications director for the campaign.

Another Texan, Perry’s former legislative director Dan Shelley, was also in the crowd. He’s formed both a “Super PAC” and a candidate-specific committee to drum up support independently from the campaign. He said the response in Iowa has been positive for Perry so far.

“My goal is to organize vets, get them excited, get them to the polls,” Shelley said.

Jay Root is a native of Liberty. He never knew any reporters growing up, and he has never taken a journalism class in his life. But somehow he got hooked on the news business. It all started when he walked into the offices of The Daily Texan, his college newspaper, during his last year at the University of Texas in 1987. He couldn't the resist the draw: it was the the biggest collection of misfits ever assembled. After graduating, he took a job at a Houston chemical company and realized it wasn't for him. Soon he was applying for an unpaid internship at the Houston Post in 1990, and it turned into a full-time job that same year. He has been a reporter ever since. He has covered natural disasters, live music and Texas politics — not necessarily in that order. He was Austin bureau chief of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a dozen years, most of them good. He also covered politics and the Legislature for The Associated Press before joining the staff of the Tribune.