Rick Perry has soared past Romney and Bachmann in the past few weeks in polls. It was inevitable that the Perry and Reomney would begin lobbing political grenades at each other. Each have “huge” problems with the Tea Party wing of the GOP electorate.

Will Romney’s “ObamneyCare” prove fatal?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry chastised Mitt Romney’s health care plan Thursday, but said he believes the former governor of Massachusetts is beginning to see the light.

“I think Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts health care plan that he passed is a huge problem for him,” he told conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham in an interview.

And the 2012 GOP contender attempted to lump Romney in with health care reform passed last year by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by President Obama, a potentially toxic tie-in for conservative voters.

“I think Obamacare, which was modeled after the Massachusetts plan, was an absolute debacle.” Perry said, in an ongoing effort to topple Romney’s GOP frontrunner status.

Will “DREAMer” Gov. Rick Perry’s “open-borders” record be more toxic than healthcare?

The Romney campaign also plans to use immigration to drive a wedge between Perry and his conservative base, by highlighting Perry’s opposition to a border fence and legislation he signed in 2001 allowing the children of illegal immigrants to attend Texas colleges and universities at in-state tuition. Without mentioning Perry by name, Romney pointed out at a town hall here in Dover that he vetoed similar legislation as governor of Massachusetts, declaring, “If you say, guess what, if you come here illegally, your kids will get [in-state tuition], that draws more people here illegally.” Romney strategists believe the immigration issue will be devastating for Perry with Tea Party Republicans across the country — and especially in important primary states like Arizona.

I expect Romney to be the victor of this battle.  If Romney wins, perhaps Riley still has a chance to get that VP nod. Yipee! (BTW, Did you notice that Mike Rogers and Kay Ivey, staunch Rileyites, are the co-chairs of the Alabama for Romney campaign; the Riley camp seems to be rejecting Perry, the other southern governor.)