ABC News’ Arlette Saenz (@arlettesaenz) reports:
DENVER — While most of the current straw poll attention is geared towards how the presidential candidates will fare in Iowa next month, Texas Governor Rick Perry will face his first straw poll test this weekend in Denver, Colorado where he is scheduled to give a keynote address at the Western Conservative Summit Friday evening.
Perry is one of fourteen names on the ballot, which includes all declared candidates, including Herman Cain and Rick Santorum, who are both speaking at the summit, and some undecideds, such as Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin, and John Bolton.
“We’ve made sure that none of those who may seek the Republican nomination in the coming months were overlooked,” John Andrews, organizer of the summit and director of the Centennial Institute, told ABC News.
Approximately 1200 people are registered for the summit and can vote in the straw poll on Sunday.
The Iowa GOP decided to omit Perry’s name from the official Ames Straw Poll ballot for Aug. 13, but grassroots groups are pushing for a strong write-in count for Perry in the straw poll next month.
As Republicans await Perry’s decision about running for president, Andrews said Colorado Republicans are intrigued by the Texas governor.
“I think there’s a restlessness among Republicans in Colorado and across the country that people are not super excited about people in the announced field,” Andrews said. “Consequently, the newness and some of the mystery surrounding a successful and long serving governor like Rick Perry is drawing a lot of attention.”
This marks Perry’s third trip to Colorado since June. Perry spoke at a private meeting held in Vail by the billionaire Koch brothers in late June, and he flew in for official RGA meetings in Aspen last week after spending time in California meeting with business leaders and potential donors.
Colorado is considered to be a likely swing state in the 2012 election. As Karl Rove described it, “'In 2012, as goes Colorado, so goes the nation.”
In the 2008 election, Barack Obama won the Centennial State despite the fact that Colorado voters tended to elect Republicans. During the 2008 primary season, Mitt Romney won the Colorado Republican caucus.
The Colorado Republican party is considering moving up its caucus by a month, from March to February, if other states decide to do the same.
Andrews said Perry, Cain and Santorum all fit the profile of the type of candidate Colorado Republicans would like to elect.
“Colorado has been a purple to blue state for most of the past decade, but underneath that, this is a center right state. Conservative at heart, not just in the way people vote, but in the way they live their lives and their core beliefs. As a western mountain state, it’s a plainspoken political culture here. We like people who aren’t too fancy, who are very direct, what you see is what you get,” Andrews said. “There’s that common denominator — somebody that is real and direct that listens. That’s the kind of leader that wins elections in Colorado regardless of party label.”
This weekend’s visit to the Centennial state comes as Perry gears up for two major events in the coming weeks. Next weekend, the National Day of Prayer and Fasting organized by Perry will take place in Houston, TX. It is still unclear if Perry will speak at the event, but a court shot down a lawsuit attempting to bar Perry from participating in the event yesterday.
The following weekend, Perry will address the Red State Gathering in Charleston, S.C. on the same day as the Ames Iowa Straw Poll. The Texas governor has made no plans to make a trip to Iowa that day.