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Is Rick Perry on the comeback trail?

After weeks (months?) of bad debate reviews, plunging poll numbers, and Herman Cain sucking up all the oxygen in the GOP race, we’ve noticed Rick Perry has managed to seize the spotlight – and to some extent drive the news cycle – over the past several days.

So far this week, Perry has:

Drawn attention for seeming to revive the Obama “birther” controversy in interviews. (He later said he’d just been joking around, and that he had no doubt the president was born in the United States.)

Released a “20-20” tax plan, calling for an optional 20 percent flat tax on income and a 20 percent corporate tax. While the plan was criticized by some economists as making the system even more complicated (since many Americans would essentially have to do their taxes twice to figure out which rate was better), it drew positive comments from GOP tax mavens like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Club for Growth’s Chris Chocola. (Here’s Decoder’s take on how Perry is selectively borrowing from Cain on this issue.)

Hired a slew of new advisors with deep experience in presidential campaigns.

Launched his first TV ads in Iowa – with a positive ad touting his jobs record in Texas.

Landed some actual hits on Mitt Romney – over Romney’s hedging on the collective bargaining issue in Ohio and Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns.

Of course, a few good (or mostly good) news cycles does not a comeback make. The latest CBS News/New York Times poll makes clear just how far Perry has to go: He’s currently in fifth place, with just 6 percent, behind Cain (25 percent), Romney (21 percent), Newt Gingrich (10 percent), and Ron Paul (8 percent). That marks a 17-point drop for the Texas governor since September.

But Perry is making his way back into the conversation – and not just on defense – and that’s a start.

And Perry will get more even exposure this Sunday, when he will appear for the full hour on Fox News Sunday – making his Sunday show debut, and his longest TV interview to date.

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