Somewhere deep inside the Days Inn in Clive, Iowa, a sleeper cell of Texans gathered this weekend to overthrow the Republican presidential front-runner.
"We don't really see Gov. [Rick] Perry as a contender," said Jelayne Sessler, 25, of Fort Worth, the organizer of a bus trip of Sarah Palin faithful who traveled to see her speak Saturday.
Sessler and 40 other Texans and Oklahomans are so devoted to Palin that they gave up their weekend and rode a bus overnight just to see what the Alaska Republican and former vice presidential candidate might tell the Restoring America rally, sponsored by the Palin-friendly Tea Party of America.
"She will be the true conservative in this race," Sessler said by phone, freshly landed in a state where Perry elbowed past Rep. Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney to lead polls.
Perry's early success despite cantankerous comments just shows that "Americans crave a conservative to take on the status quo," said Sessler, an organizer of the trip through Organize4Palin.com.
"When voters look at Gov. Palin and Gov. Perry, she won't have any trouble showing who's conservative," Sessler said.
In a moment of irony, she talked about how reporters now ask whether Perry is stupid, not Palin.
"Some of his endorsements were stupid," she said, meaning Al Gore, '88.
But that was way back when Palin was an Anchorage TV sports anchor four years from running for the Wasilla City Council.
Sessler was 2.
"Well, he's made some stupid decisions since then," she said.
Now 47, Palin has the benefit of a much shorter political record than that of Perry, 61 and in elective office for 26 years.
She didn't name names, but Palin said Saturday that other Republicans were guilty of "corporate, crony capitalism."
The thought that Palin might support Perry faded Aug. 5 when she retweeted a blogger's chart showing how Texas' debt grew 20 times faster under Perry than Alaska's under Palin.
The same page teases: "Perry and Bachmann were cheerleaders. Palin was a point guard."
As Republicans say, she should not be misunderestimated.