U.S. Republican Rick Perry to drop strong 2012 hint
WASHINGTON Aug 8 (Reuters) - Rick Perry will signal plans to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination at an event in South Carolina on Saturday, Republicans familiar with the plans said on Monday.
The Texas governor's appearance at a conservative conference coincides with a straw poll of Republican candidates in Iowa and his remarks could steal some of the thunder from his rivals competing in that event.
Two Republicans familiar with his plan said Perry would stop short of making a presidential announcement on Saturday but would drop a strong hint in remarks to a conservative conference sponsored by RedState.com in Charleston.
Afterward, he is expected to travel to New Hampshire, which holds the country's first primary contest early next year.
The straw poll in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday is a test of strength among Republicans candidates in Iowa, whose caucuses in February will be the first election contest of the 2012.
Perry is not on the straw poll ballot because he was not an announced candidate when the contest was organized. Tea Party conservative candidate Michelle Bachmann is leading polls in Iowa.
A Republican familiar with Perry's plans said his South Carolina appearance would make a splash and compete with the Iowa news that day.
Planning is under way within the Perry campaign for an announcement tour with a formal announcement coming soon, the source said.
Perry's entry into the race will add one more contender to a crowded field. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the front-runner and Perry would likely be seen as a conservative alternative to Romney.
Perry staged a day of prayer in Houston on Saturday, urging thousands to pray for Democratic President Barack Obama.
He is the longest-serving governor in Texas history.
At a time of economic turmoil across the country, Perry need only point to his home state. The Texas jobless rate was 7.7 percent in April, a sizable improvement over the national rate of 9.1 percent.
(Editing by Philip Barbara)