It's Official: Rick Perry Is Running For President - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

It's Official: Rick Perry Is Running For President

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) -- Rick Perry aimed Saturday to shift the attention from Iowa's straw poll to South Carolina, where he told conservative activists he is seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

The Texas governor made the announcement at the RedState Gathering in Charleston, one day after meeting with Alabama Republicans.

"I came to South Carolina because I cannot accept the path the country is on," Perry said. "A renewed nation needs a new president. It's time to get America working again."

Perry recited a litany of issues facing America, including debt, high unemployment and hefty energy costs. Leadership under President Barack Obama, he said, is "rudderless."

"It's time to believe the promise of our future is better than the best days behind us," Perry said to applause.

He launched his presidential campaign website, rickperry.org, shortly before the announcement.

The timing of the announcement buttressed Perry's bid to get attention on a busy day in American politics: His speech started the same hour as those given by candidates making a pitch for straw poll votes in Iowa, where he was not on the ballot.

Merle Black, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said Perry's appeal to both social and fiscal conservatives could be crucial in the South Carolina Republican primary, which every GOP presidential nominee has won since 1980.

"He would appeal to tea party Republicans, he would appeal to the individuals who are interested in job creation in the state," Black told CNN. "He can also, I think, appeal to evangelical Christians, and the overlap between evangelical tea party Republicans, economic development Republicans -- those are a lot of voters in a South Carolina Republican primary."

Perry also was scheduled to attend a Saturday event in Greenland, New Hampshire, a state where he is expected to launch an aggressive campaign.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley helped kick off the RedState conference, saying Republicans will unite to defeat President Barack Obama.

Perry told the South Carolina crowd that he has helped cut taxes and government spending in Texas.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said Perry "pledged to support the 'cut, cap and balance' plan that would preserve subsidies for oil and gas companies and tax cuts for the wealthiest while ending Medicare as we know it, eroding Social Security, eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs and erasing investments in education and research and development."

In a statement, LaBolt claimed the governor "allowed special interests to write their own rules, hired corporate lobbyists to oversee corporations, and cut funding for programs that would create opportunity for middle-class families."

Perry, a Christian, succeeded George W. Bush in the Texas governor's office and has held that job longer than anyone in state history. Now he looks poised to attempt to follow his predecessor's lead a second time.

According to a new interview with Time magazine, Perry described himself as "very calm in my heart that this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

His entry into the race will shake up the Republican field, putting Perry into direct competition with Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota for core right-wing support. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, if she runs, also would vie for that backing.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday showed 15% of Republican and independent voters who lean toward the GOP picked Perry as their choice for the Republican nomination.

That put Perry, still a noncandidate at the time, just 2 percentage points behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, considered the front-runner in the nominating process. Romney's advantage over Perry is within the survey's sampling error.

Working the crowd in Iowa, Romney on Friday said he expects a "more interesting contest" with Perry in the field.

Bachmann, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Texas Rep. Ron Paul are expected to take the top three positions in the nonbinding vote in Iowa.

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