Salt Lake City, Utah (CNN) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Friday that Rick Perry, his Texas counterpart, is "seriously considering" entering the Republican presidential race.
While he has not yet spoken to Perry about a possible run, Branstad said the Texas governor chatted recently by phone with Kim Reynolds, his lieutenant governor.
Branstad, who was in Utah for the National Governors Association annual meeting, told CNN that Perry's fact-finding calls into Iowa have left him with the impression that a presidential bid is likely.
He predicted that Perry will jump in "sometime after" the Ames Straw Poll on August 13.
Branstad also said Perry can "absolutely" afford to skip the straw poll, traditionally a test of each campaign's organizational strength in the leadoff caucus state.
One candidate who cannot afford to skip the straw poll is former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has been campaigning in Iowa for more than a year and must beat expectations in the state if he hopes to continue his campaign beyond the early nominating states.
Pawlenty "needs to do well" in the straw poll, Branstad said, but said a poor showing would not derail his campaign. He said Pawlenty has an experienced team of Iowa advisers that will keep him competitive beyond Ames.
As for the Iowa frontrunner, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Branstad said Perry or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin could complicate her path to victory in Iowa.
Bachmann is "off to a fast start" in Iowa, he said.
But Palin in particular would make the race "real interesting" for Bachmann because both Republicans are "articulate women who sometimes attract the same kind of voter."