Texas Gov. Rick Perry officially entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Saturday, after repeatedly insisting he had no intention of doing so.
Perry launched a presidential campaign website an hour before he was scheduled to make his declaration official at a speech in South Carolina, site of one of next year's crucial early primary contests.
"A renewed nation requires a new president," Perry wrote in a statement on the site. "That’s why, with faith in God, the support of my family, and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I am a candidate for President of the United States."
He said he decided to get into the race because he believes America's standing in the world is in peril. "We will not sit back and accept our current misery," he wrote. "A great country requires a better direction."
The statement, titled "Why I'm Running," featured plenty of the tea party's anti-big-government rhetoric. Perry accused President Obama of promoting a "nanny state" and said he intends to "send a signal to Washington that we are taking the country back from the grips of central planners who would control our healthcare, spend our treasure and micro-manage our businesses."
Perry touted four principles that he he said helped Texas's economy remain vibrant while most of the country stagnated in a recession: reduced government spending, minimal government regulation, low taxes and restrictions against "frivolous lawsuits."
"My mission as your president will be to get America working again!" he said.
Perry’s late entrance into the race immediately reshapes the volatile Republican field, adding a candidate with broad appeal to the party’s conservative base and a proven ability to raise big money.
Among the nation’s current governors, he’s the longest serving. Perry took over as chief executive of the Lone Star State in 2000, when his predecessor, George W. Bush, became president. He heads the Republican Governor’s Association.
Nonetheless, he has successfully marketed himself as an outsider candidate, beating back a challenge in the 2010 gubernatorial primary from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, by running an anti-Washington campaign. At a 2009 tea party rally, he half-jokingly raised the prospect of Texas seceding from the union.
The biggest question mark about a Perry candidacy: Whether he can withstand the scrutiny that comes with being a presidential candidate to oust Mitt Romney from front-runner status.
Following his speech in South Carolina, Perry is set to attend an event in New Hampshire Saturday night and Iowa on Sunday, where he’ll share a stage with a Republican presidential rival: Rep. Michele Bachmann.