Rick Perry withdraws from U.S. presidential race, endorses Gingrich

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rick Perry at the Republican Leadership Conference, August 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Governor of Texas Rick Perry ended his campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States today. He endorsed former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich. Perry announced his decision at a press conference in Charleston, South Carolina: "I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in the 2012 campaign. I know when it's time to make a strategic retreat."

In his endorsement of Gingrich, Perry said the campaign has "never been about the candidates" but about defeating incumbent President Barack Obama. Perry called Gingrich a "conservative visionary who can transform our country." Gingrich's campaign, which may benefit from Perry's decision to withdraw and his endorsement, has been gaining momentum in the South Carolina primary race, to be held on Saturday.

Speaking about Gingrich's marital history, Perry said that "Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?" Perry went on to cite his Christian faith and belief in redemption in deciding to throw his support behind the former House Speaker.

According to Ray Sullivan, a campaign spokesman, Perry made his decision to end his bid for the presidency yesterday afternoon. He discussed his decision with campaign staffers shortly after arriving in Charleston yesterday evening and called Gingrich earlier today.

Sullivan alluded to a potential second bid for the presidency in 2016 for Perry if President Obama were to win a second term this November. According to the spokesman, Perry may be "doing this again in four years, if the president wins. Republican voters tend to like the experienced candidates that they’ve seen for a long time. So I would not rule it out."

Perry entered the presidential race last August, quickly rising to the top of many polls. His popularity, however, declined after the debate season began. The Texas Governor finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses and sixth in the New Hampshire primary. Perry skipped campaigning for the latter in an attempt to get an extra boost in South Carolina. However, polls have placed him in single digits in the state.

Polls conducted earlier this week have placed Newt Gingrich behind Mitt Romney in South Carolina, with 24 percent to Romney's 34 percent. Romney held a lead of approximately 20 percentage points in the state two weeks ago.