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The Brief: Jan. 18, 2012

If the end of his campaign is near, Rick Perry may have concluded his presidential bid as it began: with a Christian prayer rally called The Response.

Gov. Rick Perry praying at The Response, a two-hour evangelical gathering in Greenville, S.C., on Jan. 17, 2012, resembling …

The Big Conversation:

If the end of his campaign is near, Rick Perry may have concluded his presidential bid as it began: with a Christian prayer rally called The Response.

Perry appeared Tuesday evening in Greenville, S.C., at a gathering resembling the massive religious revival he hosted at Houston's Reliant Stadium in August, days before he announced his bid for the presidency.

More than 30,000 attended the August event, but on Tuesday, a smaller crowd of just under 1,000 reflected how Perry's own political fortunes have changed since August, when the governor electrified the Republican race with his entrance. Ahead of South Carolina's primary on Saturday, Perry, who finished fifth in Iowa and sixth in New Hampshire after months of difficulty on the campaign trail, is languishing in polls.

Avoiding any references to the presidential race or his campaign, Perry spoke Tuesday of a god unconcerned with politics. "His agenda’s not a political agenda; he’s smarter than that. He’s smart enough, wise enough not to get involved with any political affiliation or any institution that man has made," Perry said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “He understands the imperfections of those, but he’s calling all of us — Americans of all walks of life — to be here tonight to pray for this country."

And as he did in August, Perry prayed for Barack Obama. "We pray for this president," he said. "We pray for the safety of his family. We pray to light his way and we pray for you to give him wisdom for the issues he faces."

Perry, has found receptive audiences in South Carolina, where evangelical Christians compose a large portion of the Republican primary electorate. But the governor hasn't budged in polls — and hasn't evaded further missteps, either. Earlier Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign ministry rebuked Perry for saying in a debate on Monday night that the country was ruled by "Islamic terrorists."

Culled:

  • A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected Rick Perry's attempt to get on the ballot in Virginia, where the governor failed to obtain the 10,000 signatures required by state law. Perry's only recourse now is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, though a lawyer for Perry says the campaign is still considering its options.
  • The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Border Patrol will begin imposing stricter consequences on individuals caught illegally crossing the Mexican border into the United States. Under the new set of policies, simply sending the illegal crossers back to Mexico will be a last resort. Instead, apprehended immigrants will receive harsher punishments based on the number of times they have been caught and their criminal records.
  • A three-judge panel in Washington began hearing testimony Tuesday on Texas' redistricting maps, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Though a separate case at the U.S. Supreme Court concerns the interim maps drawn by a San Antonio panel, the D.C. judges will determine whether the state's original maps meet voting rights standards.
  • Though she stopped short of an official endorsement, Sarah Palin said Tuesday on Fox News that she would support Newt Gingrich if she were voting in Saturday's South Carolina primary. "If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I’d vote for Newt," Palin said. "And I would want this to continue — more debates, more vetting of candidates." Gingrich later told Politico that he thinks Palin's comments will help him win the state's primary.

"I am respectful that Rick has every right to run as long as he feels that's what he should do, but from the standpoint of the conservative movement, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would in fact virtually guarantee a victory on Saturday. And I'd be delighted if either Perry or Santorum wanted to do that."Newt Gingrich to CNN on Tuesday

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