A Washington Post-ABC News Poll shows that Rick Perry, the governor of Texas and an evangelical Christian, is in the lead for the Republican nomination for the US presidential election in 2012.
Perry will take part in a Republican presidential debate on Wednesday at the Reagan Presidential Library, where he is likely to face attacks on his views from fellow candidates, including Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney.
Perry is counting on his well-advertised Christian piety and far right positions on social issues like abortion and gay rights to win over the religious wing of the party.
The governor, who only entered the race three weeks ago, will also hope his rhetorical assaults on big government will woo tea-party fiscal conservatives.
A seasoned debater, Perry may still be vulnerable. He will either have to defend his controversial views, or distance himself from them.
Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports from Austin, Texas.