Is Rick Perry on his way out? Is Rand Paul?

The Washington Post reports that Rick Perry has stopped paying his presidential staff because his fundraising has “dried up.” The campaign reported raising $1.14 million in the second quarter of this year.

As of July 15, Perry had almost $900,000 on hand. However, he probably blew through some of this money in advertising aimed (unsuccessfully, it turned out) at pushing him into the top 10 in time for the early August presidential debates.

So far, most of Perry’s staffers reportedly have stayed on as volunteers. But if the Perry campaign is in this much financial distress, it may be difficult, and make little sense, to persevere much longer.

If Perry bows out early again, this time it will not be due to debate performance, but rather, arguably, to debate process. His failure to make the cut for the prime time debate surely has contributed to his fundraising woes. And, as suggested above, his quest to make the cut may have induced more early spending than he anticipated.

Perry entered the debates as number 11 in the polls. Thanks to Carly Fiorina’s performance, and good to excellent performances by most of the prime time contestants, he may now rank lower than that.

Too bad. Perry ranks well up my top 10 list.

Are any other big name candidates in the kind of trouble that might cause them to exit the race? Maybe Rand Paul.

It’s been tough sledding for the former Tea Party favorite. The latest Iowa poll results (from PPP) show him with only 3 percent support. In April, he was at 10 percent in Iowa. Moreover, his “favorability” numbers there — 31-45 — are the worst in the field.

According to Politico Paul isn’t a diligent fundraiser — he’s simply not willing to do the stroking and courting that powerful donors expect. There may also be a question as to whether he can continue his run for the presidency and run for reelection to the Senate, a question that Jim Geraghty says may come to a head in less than two weeks.

Under all of these circumstances, if Paul’s numbers don’t improve very soon, he may ask himself, “what’s the point?”.

The answer might be “Donald Trump.” Paul is furious that Trump has, in his words “hijacked and hoodwinked” the Tea Party movement. As evidence of the hijacking, he says that Trump supported the bank bailouts and Obamacare — opposition to both of which helped spawn the Tea Party. Paul states, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand passively by” while Trump “destroy[s]” the movement. (Trump, ever charming and always substantive, responded by calling Paul “a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain”).

Whether fundraisers will support Paul’s crusade is another matter.

Other than Paul, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham have been Trump’s most outspoken critics. With Perry possibly on his out and Graham unable to get on the big stage, that leaves Paul, unless other contenders are willing to jump in assertively.

The question at this point — one that a few months ago I wouldn’t have expected to ask — is whether Paul has enough standing and staying power to dent Trump.