The surest place to find Michele Bachmann on Sundays this summer is at a worship service somewhere in Iowa, offering the testimony of a Republican presidential candidate who has long tied her political beliefs to her faith.
While she isn't the only conservative Christian in the field, Bachmann has vaulted into the top-tier of candidates seeking the GOP nomination in no small part by tapping the enthusiastic support of evangelicals and social conservatives in the early voting states of Iowa and South Carolina.
But a new spiritual primary looms. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is entering the race and, like Bachmann, he is a devout Christian whose faith defines his politics. Perry's well-publicized appearance at a Houston prayer rally attended by 30,000 people last weekend won strong reviews, and there are already signs that Bachmann is starting to take steps to protect her early hold on the party's base of faith-driven voters.
"For that group of voters, they will be battling it out," said David Roederer, who held top Iowa posts in John McCain's 2008 campaign and George W. Bush's 2000 bid.
Bachmann's campaign won't discuss how Perry's entry into the race affects their strategy. But on the eve of the Texas prayer rally, her team sent reporters a roster of supporters containing more than 100 pastors and spiritual leaders in Iowa.