Personal opinion, but Rick Perry is nothing more than flash in the pan. If you recall, two to three weeks ago, Michelle Bachmann was the undisputed leader after the Iowa straw poll. Every progressive I know was up in arms about that. After Perry announced, her numbers dropped like a good flush after shitting out a spicy meal from the night before. It's September of 2011, and the general election is November of 2012 - fourteen months from now. I'm of the outlook that Perry will flame out long before November of next year gets here.
What does worry me, is the more "seemingly" rational Republicans like Mitt Romney, who made a career out of destroying companies, laying off workers, and making a profit out of cannibalizing American companies for fun and profit. Bush and Rove will work to destroy Perry - they hate him. Romney, on the other hand, has staying power and is much more dangerous - his magic Mormon underwear might just protect him.
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.