Governor Perry had a spectacular week that featured national polls putting him in second place in the Republican race and 30,000 attending his Christian prayer rally. The Governor delivered a 13 minute sermon and led the assembled in prayer, including for President Obama.
I am sure the President will take all the help he can get, but Governor Perry is after his job and is building a campaign starting with the evangelical voter that is the base of the Republican party in the South, Iowa, and other key states. Perry understands that Bachmann's current strength is with evangelical voters, and he must win a majority of their support.
In the South Perry will be the candidate of evangelical voters and already leads in Virginia, according to a Public Policy Poll this week. He will have a tougher time winning their affection from the formidable Representative Bachmann outside the South, especially in crucial Iowa where Bachmann was born. Perry will also struggle against Romney in New Hampshire and in the Northeast.
Perry's virtual entry has already stalled the Bachmann surge. In Florida, a true swing state, Perry has jumped into second behind Romney, while Bachmann has faded to fifth.
Romney partisans may be praying that Perry and Bachmann split the 60% of Republican voters who do not want him to be the party's nominee. Such a prolonged battle among the most conservative Republicans could happen and is the only road leading to a Romney nomination.
But this week signals that Perry could consolidate sufficient strength among evangelical voters and then use his establishment business credentials to eat into support for Romney to win the nomination.