Texas Governor Rick Perry may have eyes on the Republican presidential nomination, but today about 20,000 pairs of eyes were focused on him as he addressed a prayer and fasting rally on Saturday in Houston.

“Like all of you, I love this country deeply,” said Perry in his opening remarks. “Thank you all for being here – indeed the only thing that you love more is living in Christ.”

“The Response,” as the seven-hour event is being called, is allowing Perry the opportunity to appear in front of the exact audience his potential Republican rivals are seeking to attract – conservative evangelicals who are concerned about the direction of America. Polls find this demographic overwhelmingly votes Republican.

During his remarks, Perry read three portions of Scripture and asked for prayers for President Obama, the nation and the men and women who serve our country. Coming on the heels of Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, an emotional Perry focused his comments on the nation’s economy.

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