Rick Perry poised to announce presidential run

Texas Gov. Rick Perry pauses before beginning to speak at a national prayer rally, Aug. 6, 2011, in Houston. Melissa Phillip,AP Photo/Houston Chronicle

Texas Gov. Rick Perry pauses before beginning to speak at a national prayer rally, Aug. 6, 2011, in Houston.
Melissa Phillip,AP Photo/Houston Chronicle

Updated 6:40 p.m. Eastern Time

Rick Perry will make clear that he plans to seek the Republican nomination for president during an appearance in South Carolina on Saturday, according to multiple reports.

Aides to Perry did not immediately confirm that the Texas governor plans to take such a step on Saturday - the same day as the closely-watched Iowa straw poll in Ames. If he does so, it will divert the attention of the political universe away from the outcome of the straw poll, an event that traditionally has a significant impact on the Republican presidential race.

Perry's office did confirm Perry will make the speech in South Carolina, at a RedState conference in Charleston, and says the Texas governor plans to travel to the key early voting state of New Hampshire following his remarks. He is expected to travel to Iowa shortly thereafter.

"The Governor is not a candidate for office at this time," Perry spokesman Mark Miner told CBS News Monday. "With President Obama's dismal economic record, and Texas' success in creating jobs and balancing our budget, Governor Perry continues to consider a potential run for The White House. Stay tuned."

Politico, the New York Times and the Statesman of Austin, Texas reported that Perry would make his plans to seek the nomination known on Saturday, though they suggested he would likely stop short of a formal announcement. Statesman reporter Jason Embry Tweeted late Monday, "I'm hearing from several GOP sources there will be a formal announcement of Perry's campaign next Wednesday in Houston." A Perry advisor, however, told CBS News: "We won't be making much news in Houston next week."

Perry, who on Saturday participated in a controversial prayer and fasting event in Houston, has spent recent weeks meeting behind closed-doors with potential donors and supporters about the possibility of a presidential run.

Perry, who is not on the Iowa straw poll ballot, will immediately become one of the frontrunners for the nomination if he enters the race, in part because he has support from both the Republican establishment that has (perhaps grudgingly) aligned with Mitt Romney and the fiscal and social conservatives who have rallied behind Rep. Michele Bachmann.

If Perry makes an announcement on Saturday, it could be particularly bad news for Bachmann or Tim Pawlenty. Both have invested heavily in the straw poll and hope to get a boost from the results - one that would be dampened if much of the coverage Saturday is focused on one of their rivals.

Perry is not on the straw poll ballot, but a group supporting him has been running ads on his behalf in the state. That group, "Americans for Rick Perry," has also been working to help Perry to win write-in votes in the straw poll. Americans for Rick Perry is sponsored in part by a $100,000 contribution from Harold Simmons, the businessman who bankrolled the "Swift Boat" ads targeting Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in the 2004 election cycle.

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