Big-Name South Carolina Strategists Advising Perry

Posted August 8, 2011 at 4:34pm

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is lining up campaign advisers in key GOP presidential primary states, including Katon Dawson and Walter Whetsell, who previously advised Newt Gingrich in South Carolina.

Dawson and Whetsell joining the presumed Perry campaign would make sense given their prior association with Gingrich. Gingrich’s former top presidential campaign aides have close ties to Perry, and they have been helping the Texas governor ramp up his presidential campaign since defecting from the ex-Speaker’s team.

In a telephone interview Monday afternoon, Dawson confirmed that he and Whetsell have been working for Perry in the context of helping him prepare for a presidential bid, although he described his services as being conducted on a “volunteer basis.” Dawson is a former South Carolina GOP chairman; Dave Carney and Rob Johnson are senior Perry advisers who worked for Gingrich until June.

“I’m trying to encourage the governor to get in the presidential race,” Dawson said. “He has great potential.”

Perry is scheduled to appear at a RedState gathering in Charleston, S.C., this weekend, and Politico reported earlier Monday that Perry would make clear in a speech to attendees that he has decided to run for president.