AUSTIN -- Perry hovers at third place in the latest poll released by CNN. The poll shows Perry with 13 percent support among likely Republican voters. Mitt Romney leads leads with 26 percent, just one percentage point ahead of rising star Herman Cain.
The same poll indicates that two-thirds of likely Republican voters are still undecided as to which candidate they favor, leaving plenty of room for campaigns to rise or fall during the coming weeks.
Some candidates' first stop Tuesday morning was the Internet. Front-runner Romney unveiled a new attack ad comparing Perry to President Obama on the issue of job creation. Rick Perry's newest ad casts him as "America's Jobs Governor," using video from his major policy speech near Pittsburgh on Friday.
As candidates prepare to square off in Tuesday's Western Republican Conference debate in Las Vegas, each will bring new talking points and face new questions.
Herman Cain arrives on the heels of controversy after comments suggesting America should build an electrified fence on the Mexican border -- comments he later said were meant as a joke.
Following up a press conference Monday, Texas Congressman Ron Paul will look to tout his plan to cut one trillion dollars from the federal budget in his first year in office.
"Fortunately my personal beliefs coincide with what the constitution says," Paul told supporters.
With the last Bloomberg - Washington Post debate played out largely before an Internet audience, Tuesday night's contest on CNN will return candidates to the national stage.
Cindy Mallette with Conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity says candidates' best bet will be to reinforce their business bona fides.
"What they need to say tonight would be, 'I'm going to support the free market.' 'I'm going to let business do what business does best, which is create jobs,'" said Mallette.
With poll numbers sliding towards the single digits, Rick Perry will once again be on difficult terrain.
Paul Stekler, professor of public affairs at the University of Texas, suggests there may be a shift in strategy for Perry's campaign.
"I think that Governor Perry and his campaign team have probably decided that the way to win the Republican nomination is not through the debates," said Stekler.
Stekler says the key for Perry will be to get through the debate without making a serious misstep that might harm his viability as a Romney alternative.
"If they're able to hang in there, establish themselves as the alternative, again, to Mitt Romney, and come in with a win in Iowa, then all of a sudden he's back in business."
Following the debate, Perry will speak Wednesday at the Western Republican Conference in Las Vegas.