By Meghashyam Mali - 01/02/12 04:42 PM EST
Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a play for conservative voters on Monday targeting surging rival Rick Santorum and predicting a strong ground game would see him finish in the "top tier" in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses.
"Forty-one percent of the folks in Iowa haven’t made their decision yet. That's one of the reasons why we're in the midst of a major bus tour and we'll end up in Perry, Iowa this evening with a great rally," he said on NBC's Today Show defending his efforts in the state despite polls showing him well behind the front runners.
"I feel very confident, we have a great ground game, over 1,500 precinct captains that are going to be going to the caucuses for us. Over 500 volunteers have descended upon Iowa from over 32 different states to share with the people of Iowa about Rick Perry."
Later in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd, Perry predicted that "we're going to do fine. We're going to be in the top tier." "This race is a long way from being won," he added.
Perry said that Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum with whom he is competing for conservative voters lacked the organization and fundraising to carry the fight to New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Perry said his status as the "only outsider" in the field would help him stand out and pull the support of late-deciding Iowa voters and hit at Santorum depicting him as a failed Washington politician.
"You've got Rick Santorum who's talked about being a fiscal conservative , but he's voted eight times to raise the debt ceiling. He's raised the debt ceiling more than Obama has. He's a serial earmarker and as a matter of fact stood up as late as yesterday and said he was proud of all those earmarks," he said on the Today show.
He also ridiculed Santorum's ability to challenge Obama in a general election contest. "He lost by 18 points," he said of Santorum's failed senatorial re-election bid. "This guy has proven he can't win races when it matters against a liberal Democrat..." said Perry.