Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is "fully committed" to participating in P5, Florida's Republican presidential straw poll in late September, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
"Gov. Perry is fully committed to participating in P5," said Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan. "The governor is committed to working hard for the vote in Florida. We have the beginnings of a very good organization in Florida and believe the governor's message will win support in Florida."
Perry will join Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) at the event. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), whose Iowa Straw Poll win was trumped by Perry's campaign announcement, are not planning to participate. Romney has sworn off straw polls altogether after having competed in them in 2008.
The state will also host the next Republican debate, which takes place Monday.
Florida could be the crucial battleground state for the GOP nomination — it will likely vote sometime after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina but before Super Tuesday. Romney, at this point, has a wide lead in New Hampshire and took in Nevada in 2008, while Perry is in a strong position in South Carolina and Iowa.
If they split those states, Florida could give one or the other candidate crucial momentum. The Sunshine State's GOP electorate is one of the more diverse in the country, with large blocs of Evangelicals, Tea Partyers, business Republicans, seniors concerned about Social Security and Medicare, hawkish Jewish voters and Cubans, and both rural and suburban voters. Of the early states, it most closely mirrors the complex coalition-building necessary to win a major-party nomination — and the presidency.