Texas Governor Rick Perry will officially announce he is entering the GOP presidential primary on Saturday, aides to the governor told Fox News on Thursday.
“This is it,” one source said of Perry’s entry into the race, adding that Perry will spend most of the next week on the campaign trail.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner told CBS News that the governor would make his candidacy official during a visit to South Carolina on Saturday.
Rumors have swirled around for months that Perry would throw his hat into the ring and the announcement comes as no surprise to political pundits and analysts. Perry’s wife gave him her blessing over a month ago and Perry has done nothing since that time to lead anyone to think he was not going to announce sometime this summer.
“I mean, this is starting to get to that comfort level and I’ve got the calmness in my heart,” Perry said in an interview with Time on Thursday.
In politics, timing is everything and campaign professionals have wondered if Perry would be able to raise the necessary money to compete in the crowded GOP field with such a late entry. Texas is well known as a haven for wealthy, Republican donors and his ability to raise big dollars in a short time frame will be tested over the next few weeks. Most believe he will be able to attract the necessary funding he needs over the next six months and move forward if he were to win the GOP nomination.
“I think we’ll be quite competitive in the fundraising side,” said Perry to Time.
In the same interview, Perry said that former President George Bush had been advising him on his decision.
Also interesting is the timing of Perry’s “pre-announcement,” which is only hours before Thursday’s GOP presidential debate in Iowa. With Perry’s aides making his intentions known today, it will most likely draw attention away from the other candidates prior to the debate. Perry is not competing in the Iowa straw poll ballot to be held on Saturday.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will be the first to feel the pressure of a Perry candidacy. Romney has consistently led the Republican field and Bachmann has seen her poll numbers steadily rise over the past two months.
A new poll released today by CNN/ORC revealed that Perry is a frontrunner, favored by 15 percent of Republicans and independents. The poll found Romney slightly at the front of the race with 17 percent of surveyed voters selecting him for the GOP nomination. The Texas governor is also expected to be tough competition when it comes to drawing Christian voters.
Most recently, Perry held a prayer rally at Reliant Stadium that drew some 30,000 people.