The battle for Iowa

Perry’s impending arrival forces a decision on Mitt Romney, who has kept one foot in and one foot out of the caucus process. Now there’s reason for Romney to take another look – Bachmann, Perry, and even former Gov. Sarah Palin, in the event she runs, would be competing for the same conservative Republican voters, perhaps offering Romney a path to a plurality victory.

But what appears likely to be a high-profile, high-stakes contest in Iowa also makes it harder for Romney to try to bypass the process, and he risks being drawn into the sort of two-front battle that helped swamp his 2008 campaign. Perry’s stated intention to compete everywhere also makes clear the degree to which Romney’s careful strategy of picking and choosing his fights is a mark, above all, of weakness…

“I saw that in Iowa we are social conservatives, and we will never be ashamed of being social conservatives,” she said. “We understand that religious liberty is the essence and the foothold of this nation.”

Indeed, if Perry gets traction here Bachmann could dive deeper into the social issues that motivate many Iowa Republicans and challenge Perry to match her.