Rick Perry will announce his candidacy status Saturday

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to make his presidential candidacy official this weekend in a speech to conservative activists in South Carolina, a move that could reshuffle the Republican race and dislodge Mitt Romney from his purported front-runner status.

Mark Miner, a spokesman for the Texas governor, said he “will make his intentions known on Saturday,” but declined to say what Perry would announce.

All signs point to Perry jumping in the race, however. After visiting South Carolina on Saturday, he’s scheduled to make swings through New Hampshire and Iowa.

Perry himself made it clear he was on the verge of entering the Republican contest in an interview with Time magazine, saying he was increasingly comfortable that “this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

“I’ve got the calmness in my heart,” he said.

Earlier reports had suggested Perry would use a speech on Saturday to the RedState Gathering in Charleston, S.C., to signal his intentions, but stop short of an official declaration of candidacy.


But a Republican source told CNN on Thursday that he would be a full-fledged candidate after the speech. Fox News reported that it would be “a definitive announcement.”

A new CNN poll released Thursday showed that Romney led the pack of Republican candidates with 17% support, followed closely behind by Perry with 15%. Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin and Ron Paul were all tied at 12%.

Without Giuliani and Palin included, Romney leads Perry 23% to 18%.

Most of the announced Republican candidates are participating in a debate Thursday night from Ames, Iowa, site of this weekend’s straw poll.