And Perry's already tied with Romney for the GOP lead:
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.