AUSTIN, Texas - There were hints Friday of a possible new churning of the field of candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry reversing himself and saying he was "going to think about" running, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani heading to New Hampshire next week, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann making it clear she's leaning in favor of a run.
Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, would bring conservative bona fides and a proven fund-raising record to the field.
"I'm going to think about it," Perry said Friday. "I think about a lot of things."
That was enough to set off speculation he would jump into a campaign that lacks a clear front-runner.
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, is the closest to a favorite at this point. Like Giuliani, he ran for the nomination in 2008, losing to Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Romney is to formally kick off his campaign in the early primary state of New Hampshire on Thursday, the same day that Giuliani is now scheduled to headline a fund-raiser for the state Republican Party and have lunch with GOP activists.
Bachman repeated she would announce her presidential plans next month in Waterloo, Iowa, where she was born and lived as a child before moving to neighboring Minnesota. But it sounded as though her mind was largely made up.
"I've had this calling and tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do," Bachmann said during a taping of the public-television program Iowa Press. "People want something new and different, and that's one thing I've established with my voting record."
She said her decision won't be altered by whether others enter the race. There has been a new flurry of speculation that former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin would seek the nomination, a move that could dilute Bachmann's strength among social conservatives and tea party activists.
Bachmann has made five trips recently to Iowa, where caucuses begin the presidential nominating process. She also has held events in other early nominating states, including New Hampshire and South Carolina. She said fund-raising had gone well and she has hired staff in each of the early nominating states.
"We've had great grassroots support and we're looking forward to building on that," Bachmann said.
As for Perry, while his spokesman, Mark Miner, tried to quiet the buzz, saying the governor had "no intention of running for president," Mark McKinnon, a veteran political consultant who advised President George W. Bush's campaigns, said, "The only real question is: Why wouldn't he run?"
Social conservatives are still shopping for a candidate. Tea party activists want one of their own. Establishment Republicans remain unsettled on a choice.
That has opened the door for Perry, who has never lost an election. Still, he has for months insisted he has no interest in running for the White House.
"I don't want to be the president of the United States," he said in November.