"Yes, Santorum is living Perry's dream, but Perry would have been so much better at it," said Adam Schiffer, a Texas Christian University political science professor.
"If he had been the candidate religious leaders hoped, he could have had that constituency locked up like Santorum. But Perry would have had broader appeal."
Perry's campaign launched when some ministers became concerned that Newt Gingrich wouldn't run hard and Santorum couldn't win.
But Perry also won support from business leaders who view Santorum as a Senate washout with no executive experience.
"No other candidate so effectively blended both the social and economic wings of the party" as Perry, said political science professor Jerry Polinard of the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.
"Instead, he will appear prominently in every future textbook on campaign mistakes."
Had Perry not tripped over his tongue early and often, he would be talking mostly about jobs and economic growth by now, not sex, college snobs or John F. Kennedy, the topics of Santorum.
(When the contraception question came up, Perry could tell how his father-in-law did his vasectomy.)
"Of all the candidates who started last May and June, it's unbelievable that Rick Santorum would be the challenger left," Schiffer said.