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Florida sparkles in eyes of GOP presidential contenders

How do you start from nothing and quickly rev up a serious presidential campaign in a state as big as Florida?

We’re about to see Rick Perry try.

The Republican presidential race suddenly looks like a three-person battle between Texas Gov. Perry, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But as the focus of the contest soon shifts to Florida, Perry and Bachmann are invisible in the state while Romney has an expansive political network still in place since his campaign here four years ago.

Grass-roots activists and veteran political consultants say they see no sign of Bachmann trying to organize a campaign in Florida, though on Aug. 27 she plans to attend a tea party rally in The Villages and then a Florida Family Policy Council dinner in Orlando. But the campaign told the St. Petersburg Times on Tuesday night that it has no plans to compete in a mock election planned by the state GOP next month.

It’s a different story with Perry, who formally jumped in the race Saturday.

Perry campaign officials are talking to some of the top Republican strategists, including former George W. Bush Florida 2004 chief Brett Doster and the Tallahassee team of Randy Enwright, Jim Rimes and Rich Heffley. The late entry into the contest has also contacted many of the state’s top money-raisers and found some keen interest.

More from Adam C. Smith here.

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