Texas Governor Mounts Presidential Bid
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - Republican Rick Perry, the conservative governor of Texas, on Saturday declared himself a candidate for president with a blistering attack on Democratic President Barack Obama.
"I realize that the United States of America really is the last great hope of mankind," Perry said, as he accused Obama of imperiling America's standing in the world with "disastrous economic policies" and the "incoherent muddle that they call foreign policy."
Delivering a speech to about 700 conservative activists in South Carolina, Perry, 61, touted his job creation record in Texas and promised to reduce taxes, business regulations and the overall role of government in people's lives. He said leaders in Washington have lacked courage and Obama's policies have "prolonged our national misery, not alleviated it."
"Mr. President, let us tell you something. You cannot win the future by selling America off to foreign creditors. We cannot afford four more years of this rudderless leadership," Perry said.
Perry's entry shakes up the race for the Republican nomination to face Obama in the November 2012 general election. Opinion polls indicate Perry already is close on the heels of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the early Republican front-runner.
Perry, who caused a stir in 2009 when he openly pondered his state's secession from the United States, was sharply critical of what he called an overbearing federal government.
"As Americans we realize that there is no taxpayer money that wasn't first earned by the sweat and toil of one of our citizens," said Perry, drawing a loud round of cheers and applause from the hundreds of people who packed into a Charleston hotel to hear him speak.
"That's why we reject this President's unbridled fixation on taking more money out of wallets and pocketbooks of American families and employers and giving it to a central government," he said.
"Spreading the wealth punishes success while setting America on course for greater dependency on government."
Perry's candidacy could steal support from fellow conservative Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann, replacing her as Romney's top rival and potentially bridging the gap between the party's establishment center and right-wing activists.
The three-term Texas governor is an opponent of abortion rights and gay marriage. He is considered a strong fund-raiser. …