Rick Perry has a mighty funny way of running for president.He goes to California and insults gay and lesbian Americans. Then he tells a New York writer hes more Jewish than you think.He talks about retiring to Southern California, but then hints hed be better than U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and even mocks Cruzs 15 seconds of fame.Result: Perry has been the darling of national media all week, a master of the sin-and-contrition rinse cycle and as charming as an old basset hound that messes up the carpet but still licks your face.Just when you think he cant possibly be a 2016 national candidate, he rallies with a combination of faith and reason, attracting both business and family-values voters while staking a national role as a Texas alternative to Cruz.A couple of weeks ago, no less than U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas. told WFAA/Channel 8s Inside Texas Politics that he likes governors and former governors for the 2016 ticket.He nodded that he meant Perry or Floridas Jeb Bush.As far as I can tell, absolutely nobody is printing Bush-Perry 2016 stickers yet. But its notable that Perry has defended Bushs empathetic comments about illegal immigrants and their families.By Thursday, Perry was conceding to Washington reporters than he stepped right in it June 11 by comparing sexual orientation to alcoholism. But even some of his harshest critics complimented him for finally accepting sexual orientation as genetic in other words, God-given. Then, in music to the Washington reporters ears, he implied that Cruz lacks long-term staying power and added, Ask me in eight years if Sen. Cruz has made an impact.When Perry became governor, back last century, Cruz had just turned 30 and was a lawyer with then-President-elect George W. Bushs legal team.Notably, some of Cruzs most avid Tea Party supporters were behind the push this week claiming that Texas hasnt done enough to secure the border.If Perry werent a threat, they wouldnt be openly mocking his Texas miracle as cronyism or trying to undermine him.Cruz has the inside track ahead of Perry for faith-and-values voters, Rand Paul for the libertarian faction. But Perry could easily win back some of the faith voters who went for Rick Santorum in 2012 and compete for establishment Republicans.By email, University of Houston political science professor Richard Murray called Perry a very, very, very longshot.Hes running, Murray wrote, to atone for his 2011-12 showing and redeem his reputation, which improves his prospects for post-partum respect, influence and possibly income.(Perry, a Realtor when first elected, has no other outside career.)The January 2016 Iowa caucus will sort out Cruz and Paul, Murray guessed. If Perry does as well there as in 2012, he might land on a short list for the ticket with a presidential candidate needing a Southerner or faith-and-values appeal, just as he made hopeful Rudy Giulianis radar in 2008.Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson was less charitable.Perry is a hardy Texas perennial but wilts in other climes, Jillson wrote.In California, he hit his economic points nicely, but drove right in the ditch when he turned to social issues, Jillson wrote.But by 2016, he might make two or three more comebacks.