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Rick Perry to run for president, spokesman says

Updated at 4:46 p.m. ET

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running for president, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, a move certain to shake up the race for the Republican nomination much to the delight of conservatives looking for a candidate to embrace.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the governor would make his intentions known on Saturday while visiting the crucial early primary states of South Carolina and New Hampshire just as most of his presidential rivals compete in a test vote in another key state, Iowa.

Official word of Perry's entrance into the race came just hours before eight candidates, including Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, were to appear on stage during a nationally televised debate.

On Sunday, Perry will speak at a Republican fundraiser in Iowa for the Black Hawk County Republicans, his campaign confirmed to the CBS News earlier this week. His decision to travel to the crucial first-in-the-nation voting state signals that he plans to compete aggressively there for the Republican presidential nomination.

Perry's entry into the race is sure to draw attention away from the Iowa straw poll in Ames on Saturday, which traditionally has a significant impact on the Republican presidential race. Perry is not on the straw poll ballot. special report: Campaign 2012

The Texas governor is expected to immediately jump to the top tier of contenders for the nomination if he enters the race, in part because he has support from both the Republican establishment and the social and fiscal conservatives.

Perry, who participated last Saturday 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.

In a recent interview with Time magazine, Perry said that former President George W. Bush -- who preceded Perry as Texas governor -- has been advising him on the decision.

"He said, 'You'll do what's right,'" Perry said, of a June conversation with the former president. "He said, you don't want to wake up when you're 70 and go, 'I wish I had tried that. I wish I had done that.'"

Questioned about the strength of his conservative credentials, Perry said he didn't think there was "any doubt" that he was at least as conservative as every other candidate in the race - if not more so.

"I've got a record. And that record, particularly when it comes to the most important issues in this campaign, which is creating the climate of America that gives incentives to job creators to risk their capital and create jobs for our citizens, I will put that up against anybody who's running and particularly against this President we have today, whose jobs record is abysmal," he said.

Perry has never run a national campaign before, and it's unclear whether his Texas swagger and contemplation of state secession will sit well with Republican primary voters outside his state.

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