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The evangelical Christian event, called “The Response,” at Houston’s Reliant Stadium is intended to ask God’s forgiveness for the nation’s moral failings. It gives Mr. Perry a chance to shore up his bona fides with the social conservative wing of the Republican Party. But some think it could also alienate independent voters, who might find its focus on the culture war distasteful.

Civil rights groups have accused some of the preachers involved of intolerance. Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who now leads the Republican Leadership Council, said such events could make it more difficult for Mr. Perry to win a general election.

SENATE

Florida lawmakers signal debt bill’s great divide

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson cast it as a grand compromise. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio called it a bad deal.

And so the Florida votes reflected the divided tone of Washington over the debt-ceiling package, which got final approval by the Senate on Tuesday and was quickly signed by President Obama.

“I wanted to come up here and be part of the solution, not just part of cutting deals,” said Mr. Rubio, noting that earlier this year he called for a plan that tackled tax reform, discretionary spending, changes to shore up Social Security and Medicare, and a balanced-budget amendment.

Some of Mr. Rubio’s GOP colleagues said they wanted more, too, but that it was a significant step. Mr. Rubio agreed the Republicans, with tea party pressure, changed the debate to deep cuts.

“But I still think the enormity of the problem is unresolved,” he said. “Very soon, if we don’t do something, we’re going to have a debt crisis in this country that will make this one look like child’s play.”

Mr. Nelson, who is up for re-election in 2012, took to the Senate floor before the vote to praise the compromise.