So while he won’t be battling Jon Huntsman for the win at tonight’s debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry is expected to announce his run for president this Saturday in South Carolina. Really? All the cool almost-but-maybe-not-actual candidates are hanging in Iowa this week. Our own John Heilemann spoke with Hardball’s Chris Matthews tonight from Iowa, where everyone seems giddy over the Perry pre-announcement news and is already calling the Republican primary a two-man race between Perry and Mitt Romney. “[Perry] is someone who has real appeal to evangelicals, populists, Tea Party types … he could also appeal to mainstream Republicans,” Heilemann said, adding “He gives one hell of a stump speech.” And he loves a good group prayer session, too.