The Ames straw poll is a fund raiser. It costs $30 to vote, so candidates buy votes and pass them out to voters who visit their tents for food and entertainment. Bachmann bought and handed out 6,000 votes. Perry wasn't there.
Obama and all the Democratic candidates need to take a stand and campaign against the GOP agenda, not individual candidates. Regardless of what GOP candidates say, their intention is to destroy the middle class along with the labor unions and progressive Democratic programs that built the middle class. They accomplish that through red herrings and fear. Don't worry about the economy; we've got to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Never mind that the rich and corporations reap the benefits of tax cuts and loopholes; we need to stand firm against gay marriage. Screw constitutional rights; al Quaeda is still out there. Etc., etc., etc.
Thought I would add something. Perry may be a flash in the pan. But if he fades, who takes the lead? Not a lot of sanity on the right; not much education, either.