HOUSTON, (Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry, a staunch conservative with a Washington outsider’s resume, will seek the 2012 Republican nomination for U.S. president, his spokesman said yesterday, adding a top contender to the party’s field of hopefuls.
“He will make a definitive announcement on Saturday for the race,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner said. Asked if Perry is indeed joining the race, Miner said, “Yes.”
Perry’s long-awaited entry promises to reshape the crowded race for the Republican nomination, placing him instantly at or near the top and potentially pushing out several candidates who have failed to gain traction in poll ratings or fundraising. The eventual Republican nominee will seek to deny Democratic President Barack Obama a second term in office in the November 2012 election. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the early front-runner for the nomination but is seen as vulnerable.
“I think Perry will shoot to the top of the polls right away, and be neck and neck with Romney,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Texas.
His campaign confirmed he would run hours before a Thursday night debate among eight other Republican hopefuls in Iowa.