Rick Perry says he'll decide within the next three weeks whether he'll make a bid for the 2012 GOP nomination, but he already sounds like a candidate.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register's Jason Clayworth, the Texas governor says he feels "called" to run for president.
"I'm not ready to tell you that I'm ready to announce that I'm in," Perry told the Register. "But I'm getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I've been called to do. This is what America needs."
His comments come after weeks of outreach to key Republicans in Iowa and other early primary states. For months, Perry had repeatedly ruled out a 2012 bid. In May, he abruptly changed course and announced he was considering a White House bid, suggesting that GOP voters wanted more "options" in the race.
But Perry is still cagey about how he will run against his potential 2012 rivals. In his interview with the Register, he declined to say what distinguishes him in the field. But he did push back against two potential marks against his likely bid: His past suggestion that Texas should secede from the U.S. to protest President Obama's spending policies and his similarities to former President George W. Bush.
Perry now says he never seriously pushed secession as a solution, calling it "nonsense." On the Bush question, Perry insists he respects his former political patron but that they are two different men.
"The idea of 'Just because you're from Texas, you're all alike and you're all cut from the same cloth' is a bit of a stretch," the governor told the Register. "The folks that want to make that comparison, they'll figure out pretty quick that, 'Hey, this guy Perry, he's different.' "