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Texas Gov. Rick Perry tossed his hat into the ring Saturday, shaking up the GOP race as he puts his undefeated political record on the line in his first presidential rodeo.
"It is time to get America working again and that's why with the support of my family and unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today as a candidate for the president of the United States," he said in a speech at a RedState Gathering of conservative activists in Charleston, South Carolina.
Before the speech, Perry told South Carolina voters on a conference call that he's ready for a showdown with President Obama.
"I full well believe I'm going to win," he said. Obama's re-election campaign immediately hit back at Perry after his speech in which the Texan ripped the president's economic record.
At the same time Perry was rolling out his presidential announcement, his GOP rivals were competing in the Iowa Straw Poll, the first time Republican voters will make their preference known.
The RedState Gathering in South Carolina, another key early battleground state, was originally expected to draw about 400 people. But Katon Dawson, a former state GOP chairman and Perry supporter, said news of Perry's planned announcement had drawn many more activists to travel to the event.
"I have never seen this landslide of emotion for a candidacy. I cannot literally keep up with the emails and messages coming into my cellphone," Dawson said. "There is an excitement for Gov. Perry that there just isn't around the other candidates."
After South Carolina, Perry was scheduled to travel to New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state, then to visit Iowa Sunday.
Perry, 61, would bring significant strengths to a field whose strongest candidate thus far has been Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
Perry is a prodigious fundraiser who has already begun laying the groundwork for a national finance network his supporters say would rival that of President Obama, who is expected to exceed his record-breaking $750 million haul from 2008.
Perry's visit to New Hampshire will be his first of the year and comes soon after a handful of GOP activists in the state went to Texas to encourage him to run. He's expected to meet about 100 activists at a house party hosted by state Rep. Pam Tucker.
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|Jesus said: What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. Luke 12:3|
|If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)|
|All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. --Edmund Burke 1729-1797|
|The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide. --B. H. Obama, 8/21/2010|