Perry has led in several recent national polls, most recently earning 30 percent to Romney's 18 percent in a CNN survey taken from Sept. 9-11. National polling, however, is far less significant than voter sentiment in the early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, which will help shape the race early next year. There is scant polling so far in those states.
Romney will get some help in trying to tear down Perry.
Romney may have already benefited from attacks by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who have been strong Perry critics all along.
On Monday, they lashed out at Perry from the right, criticizing his positions on immigration, taxes and public health.
"Our taxes have doubled since he's been in office. Our spending has gone up double. Our debt has gone up nearly triple," Paul said of Perry's decade as governor. "So I would put a little damper on this, but I don't want to offend the governor, because he might raise my taxes or something."
Bachmann went after Perry for trying to require vaccinations on 11- and 12-year old girls to prevent a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.
"To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong," Bachmann said. "That should never be done. It's a violation of a liberty interest."
Perry defended his record the best he could, acknowledging a mistake by bypassing the state legislature to force the vaccines and highlighting job growth in Texas under his watch.
In the coming months, look to Romney to ensure Perry doesn't get off easy.
- Photos: UCLA wades through damage caused by...
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the time'
- Child sex trafficking bust reveals worries...
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should offer...
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit against Obama
- Democrats have million-dollar day on impeachment
- Georgia girl struck by plane on Florida beach...
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the... 46
- US Court: Virginia marriage is for all... 44
- Most Americans believe the U.S. should... 25
- Obama maintains busy fundraising... 22
- Fast food workers vow civil disobedience 18
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit... 16
- Democrats have million-dollar day on... 13
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule;... 12