**UPDATE - Watch Perry's Speech HERE**
As we've been reporting, Ames won't be the center of the political universe today. Gov. Rick Perry is officially jumping into the presidential race in a speech delivered at the Red State conference in South Carolina. A small excerpt of Perry's remarks have leaked out (via ABC News):
"Our nation cannot and must not endure four more years of aimless foreign policy," Perry will say, according to prepared remarks. "We cannot and must not endure four more years of rising unemployment ... rising taxes ... rising debt ... and rising energy dependence on nations that intend us harm. It is time to get America working again."
The AP is reporting Perry made his intentions clear in a conference call with supporters earlier today. He told them he's running for president, and believes "full well" that he's going ot win. Perry's entrance will definitely usurp some of the limelight from this evening's winner in Ames, which was surely his intent -- despite warnings that it could ruffle feathers in the Iowa establishment. Big day. If you're a political animal, strap in, pop some popcorn, and enjoy.
UPDATE: Introducing www.RickPerry.org -
We will not sit back and accept our current misery…because a great country requires a better direction…because a renewed nation requires a new president. 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.
And I will work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your lives as I can.
As governor of Texas I have led based on a few guiding principles. One, don’t spend all the money. Two, keep taxes low and under control. Three, keep regulations fair and predictable. And four, reform the legal system so frivolous lawsuits don’t paralyze employers that are trying to create jobs.
Over ten years, we have followed this recipe of fiscal restraint to produce the strongest economy in the nation. While millions of jobs have been lost over the last decade nationwide, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been added in Texas. Texas is home to one in 12 Americans, and yet since June of 2009, we have created more than four in ten American jobs.
The change we seek will never emanate out of Washington…it must come from the windswept prairies of Middle America…the farms and factories across this great land…the hearts and minds of God-fearing Americans who will not accept a future that is less than our past…who will not be consigned a fate of less freedom in exchange for more government.
It is up to us…to this present generation of Americans…to take a stand for freedom…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. My mission as your president will be to get America working again!
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography