Two clips for you: A 90-second highlight from the Examiner plus the full 12-minute speech/sermon via Mediaite. He stayed away from overtly political rhetoric, as promised, but when you’re polling second in the GOP field and on the cusp of jolting the presidential race, anything you say or do matters politically. And this event isn’t just “anything,” needless to say: Iowans are starting to pay attention to the campaign with Ames just a week away, and the left is busily compiling old quotes from today’s speakers to use against him later.

Besides, notwithstanding the fact that he asked attendees to pray for the president, there’s obviously political resonance to this passage:

“Father, our heart breaks for America,” Perry said, leading the crowd at Reliant Stadium in prayer. “We see discord at home, we see fear in the marketplace, we see anger in the halls of government. And as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us.

“And for that we cry out for your forgiveness,” he said…

The stated reasons for the prayer gathering — a “crisis” moment in America – also underscored the politics. “Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters,” Perry wrote in a letter on the website for The Response. “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

After only 8,000 people registered online, they ended up with a good crowd anyway. According to the AP, roughly 30,000 were there.