Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, with former FEMA chief Joe Allbaugh, now running Perry's presidential campaign. Harry Cabluck/AP
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Joe Allbaugh, the no-nonsense campaign manager for George W. Bush in 2000 who now runs an international security consulting firm, has quietly taken over the reins of the beleaguered campaign of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Allbaugh was brought on with several GOP veterans a few weeks ago to help energize the Perry White House bid. He has now assumed the top manager’s slot, which was held before by Texan Rob Johnson.

Johnson, who ran Perry’s last gubernatorial campaign but was new to national politics, will be traveling more with Perry in coming weeks, say Perry fundraisers and strategists.

On Monday, Allbaugh ran conference calls with Perry allies and strategists where he was giving assignments in a forceful way, according to one participant on the call. The abrupt change comes after Allbaugh spent a week on the road with Perry in Iowa and other states. His role was formalized over the weekend.

The move is aimed at improving Perry’s standing in the national polls and overall performance. Perry has fallen from being a top contender who was ahead of Mitt Romney for a while, to single or low double digits in recent surveys. Perry has been criticized in the media for his lackluster debate performances and for a rambling recent speech in New Hampshire where some viewers suggested he was intoxicated.

The Perry campaign raised an impressive $17 million in just under 50 days. Those funds are now being tapped for an aggressive ad drive in Iowa and South Carolina, two states that are critical to Perry’s prospects for winning the GOP nomination.

Allbaugh, who ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the start of the Bush administration, left after a couple years to go into international consulting with long-time lobbyist Ed Rogers.

Allbaugh teamed up with Rogers at New Bridge Strategies, which was launched to facilitate business deals in the Middle East not long after the Iraq war started in 2003. The firm was set up “to help companies evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S. led war in Iraq,” according to its website at the time.

Later, Allbaugh had a hand in winning contracts for American companies after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Allbaugh’s clients reportedly did quite well. The Shaw Group, a large construction firm, won a contract worth as much as $100 million to provide emergency housing and renovate buildings. Another client, Halliburton, snared a contract worth $30 million to rebuild Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Currently, Allbaugh heads the eponymous Allbaugh International Group, a security consulting business with offices in Washington, Austin, Oklahoma City as well as overseas in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

The firm’s website boasts that it “provides world class emergency, security, disaster and anti-terrorism planning,” among other services. And its clients include “governmental agencies, private companies and select individuals.”

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