The announcement by Perry, who has made his deep Christian faith a big part of his public image, came one week after he led a seven-hour religious rally in Houston to pray for America, a nation he described as "in crisis."
In remarks posted before his speech on his campaign's website, Perry said, "As Americans, we believe freedom is a gift from God, and government's prime function is to defend it. We don't see the role of government as a nanny state, and we recognize there is no government money that wasn't once earned through the sweat and toil of private citizens."
Perry sharply criticizes the Obama administration in the remarks.
"That's why we object to an administration that sees its role as spending our children's inheritance on failed economic theories that have given us record debt and left far too many unemployed, threatening not only our economy, but our security. Our reliance on foreign creditors and sources of energy not only compromises our national sovereignty, but jeopardizes our national future," Perry said.
OUTSIDER'S POLITICAL RESUME
Perry is a staunch conservative with a Washington outsider's political resume and a pro-business record of job growth during more than a decade as chief executive in Texas.
That is a potent blend in a party dominated by social conservatives and followers of the conservative Tea Party movement, and in a campaign that likely will focus heavily on the lagging U.S. economy and stubbornly high unemployment.
Perry has been sharply critical of the federal government and caused a stir in 2009 when he openly pondered his state's secession from the United States.
Raised on a west Texas farm, Perry has never lost an election. After a stint in the Air Force, he rose through the ranks of Texas politics from the House of Representatives to agriculture commissioner, lieutenant governor and then governor in 2000 when Bush left for the White House.
Perry could draw comparisons to George W. Bush, the last Texas governor in the White House, raising the possibility of "Texas fatigue" among voters. The two men and their staffs have a sometimes strained relationship, made worse in recent years by Perry's criticism of heavy government spending during Bush's presidency.
Perry could have a strong regional base as the only southern governor in the race, but could find it difficult to win over a broader electorate with fresh memories of Bush, who left office unpopular among many Americans.