UPDATE: Gov Perry may have dropped a hint about a ticket or perhaps a Secretary of State choice near the end of his visit with Jay Leno. Leno asked Perry to name his preferred candidate if he doesn’t get the nod. The governor hesitated a bit but when Leno pressed named Jon Huntsman. He had good things to say about Huntsman, his wife and kids. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it has occurred to me that Huntsman would add stellar foreign policy credentials as a veep or S of S.

Other than that my remarks about an earlier appearance on Fox about cover the Leno stint.

Gov Perry was relaxed and alert as he fielded a variety of questions. He smartly used his answers to remind conservatives why they should consider him.

This is a man who is a quick study and a formidable politician. Instead of just Texas this and Texas that he pointed out that the Lone Star state all by its lonesome is the 13th largest economy in the world. A nice way to pivot into what will be the big issue in 2012 without sounding provincial.

Zero-based foreign aid will not only warm conservative innards, it will play well as part of the spending argument. And he noted the UN can expect a zero-budget starting point. Long overdue and just hearing it made me smile. Asked about Pakistan’s aid Perry demonstrated…gasp..nuance. He noted Pakistan is a difficult problem not the least because it has nukes. Nice answer.

Perry showed another vote-winning quality when he took ownership of his infamous “no heart” comment regarding those who disagree with in-state tuition for illegals in Texas. That comment, he said, was just wrong; and added that his wife gave him hell for it after the debate. But he didn’t leave it there. He promised the southern border will be closed period a year after he takes office should he be elected. A panel member asked how this would affect the GOP’s Hispanic vote. Perry’s reply was politically astute to say the least. The Hispanics in this country are concerned like the rest of us  with jobs and the economy. Closing the border, he added, will be understood as a matter of national security.

This brief appearance showed Perry as an extremely able politician. He is pleasant. He admits mistakes. (Halleluyah!) He can frame difficult issues to his advantage. He is a quick study. He’s going to get better.

However (always a but lol) I personally think he should quietly ditch his part-time Congress idea. The legislative branch is currently in low regard, but I don’t think the folks are going to buy that one of the checks and balances ought to be part time. Politically it would be rather hairy for good conservative candidates to argue that the present mess requires part-timers rather than properly-focused full time representatives. It’s not a conservative proposal since it would require a sweeping change to a long established way of governing. It’s also not going to happen since Congress would have to make it so. It may be ok in Texas Rick, but leave it there my friend. It’s a clunker nationally.

DO’C’s fearless prediction (subject to frequent change of course): Perry does well tonight and starts rising in the polls.