It’s pretty clear that social issues will take a back seat to the economy in the 2012 election (the sound defeat of the “personhood” amendment in deeply-red Mississippi provides some evidence of the waning power of the the far right), but make no mistake, social conservatives are still a very powerful and organized voting bloc.

And Rick Perry, lagging in the polls, knows that his chance of regaining his footing depends in some measure on things that are out of his control (the fate of Herman Cain). Perry’s future also hangs on Iowa voters, so he is out on Tuesday with an add called “Values” that highlights his humble beginnings (he has one of the best up-from-nowhere biographies of all the candidates).

Taken by itself, the ad, which features Perry looking straight into the camera and talking about the values he learned down on a farm in Paint Creek, Texas, is standard way of introducting Perry to Iowa voters.

Yet taken within the context of the larger campaign, with Cain mired in sexual harassment allegations, the ad provides a stark contrast to alleged incidents involving the former Godfather’s CEO.

Intentional? Who knows. But the timing for Perry couldn’t be better.