Ready or not America, here comes Rick Perry into the presidential race -- the Republican party's new God-talking rock star.
He's not yet officially announced, but when Perry addressed a crowd estimated at 30,000 at Houston's Reliant Stadium at The Response, a Christian prayer event that was his brainchild, the Texas governor positioned himself as a Presidential candidate.
An official announcement at this point seems anticlimactic.
In a 13-minute speech beamed to the audience filling almost half of the stadium seats via three 18-by-24-foot projection screens, Perry frequently invoked God. He spoke of and prayed for challenges facing the nation, including the safety of President Barack Obama and his family, and he talked of the nation more than he zeroed in on Texas, his home state.
Perry is expected to officially announce his campaign for the Republican party's presidential nomination as early as this week. But it was clear as Gov. Perry beamed upon the stage to the adoration of thousands, many who stood and reached out to him as he approached the stage and spoke, that the event in Houston was his true national political coming-out party.
America, meet Rick Perry, Christian political rock star, ready to rally evangelicals, liberal loathers, and fragmented Republican party members through conservative talk that doesn't apologize for melding God and politics or taking on Democratic President Obama and other Washington politicians he feels have gone astray from the real needs of the nation.
The 61-year-old even seems to understand that he can only push God so far. In speaking Saturday, Perry gave his view of a "personal God" and said his God has an "agenda" that is "not a political agenda. His agenda is a salvation agenda."
"He is a wise, wise God," Perry said, "and he's wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party."
Perry also prayed for the safety of President Barack Obama, undoubtedly the one he considers to be his biggest obstacle to overcome in the Presidential race.
"Father," Perry said, "we pray for our President, that you would impart your wisdom upon him, that you would guard his family. You call us to repent, Lord, and this day is our response."
Perry said he called The Response prayer event in Houston, Texas, at the city's largest public venue to pray "for a nation in crisis." America had just emerged from more than a week of difficult political negotiations to life the nation's debt ceiling. And the night before the rally, the ratings agency S&P had downgraded the U.S.' credit rating one notch.
Observers say many of the more than 30,000 that filled the football stadium Saturday moved in the beat of religious spirit, waving hands, swaying to music, singing and crying out, and sometimes approaching "near-frenzied dance and trance" according to a journalist with the Austin Statesman.
"We see discord at home," Perry said. "We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government. As a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness."
Christianity has been a nagging theme surrounding President Obama, though he has professed publicly multiple times that he's a Christian since running for election and winning three years ago, but some Americans simply do not believe him. They accuse him of being a true Muslim parading in a Christian sheep's clothing.
Perry has the support of the conservative American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., and other evangelical conservative groups, something that raises the pulse of many liberals -- but he has been careful to proclaim that he doesn't think God is only on his side.
Perry had invited President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other Congressional and Senate leaders, as well as all of the country's governors to attend the event. But only Sam Browback, a Republican governor from Kansas, showed. Also, a taped message was played during the event from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.
Pery closed the event by offering his blessing to attendees, as is his custom, but instead of saying "Texas" as usual, he said "nation."
"God bless you and, through you, may God continue to bless this great nation we love," said Perry.
With that, it was evident that while it may not yet be official, Texas Governor Rick Perry has now joined the race to become America's next President.