Rick Perry Drops Out of the GOP Race; Endorses Newt Gingrich
Speaking from South Carolina, Rick Perry concludes that there is "No viable path forward" for him in the 2012 bid for the presidency and suspends his campaign.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is throwing in the towel on his bid for the presidency.
In a press conference held this morning in Charleston, S.C., Perry said he was suspending his campaign for the GOP nomination and endorsing Newt Gingrich.
"I always believed the mission is greater than the man," said Perry. "Therefore, today I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States."
Perry finished a disappointing fifth place in the Jan. 3 Iowa Caucus after starting off his campaign in August by immediately vaulting to the front of the pack the day he announced. He entered the race the day of the Ames Straw Poll — which was won by Michele Bachmann, who dropped out after placing sixth in the Caucuses — stealing her thunder. While Perry didn't take part in the Ames event, he drew big crowds at his Iowa appearances, but sank in the polls after gaffes in several debates.
In his withdrawal speech today, Perry said despite their differences, he believes House Speaker Gingrich is the candidate who can help get the United States back on track.
"I believe Newt is a conservative visionary," Perry said. "We’ve had our differences and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is? The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God. And I believe in the power of redemption for it is a central tenant of my Christian faith."
The endorsement comes at a good time for Gingrich as the four remaining candidates head into tonight's debate in South Carolina and Saturday's Republican primary.
According to a recent Politico poll, while Mitt Romney may be leading the pack with 37 percent of the vote, Gingrich trails behind with a close 30 percent. Gov. Perry garnered only 4 percent of the vote leading up to his announcement today.
Gingrich is also battling bad press today as ABC's "Nightline" prepares to air an interview with his second wife, Marianne, that will reportedly describe his request for an open marriage to continue an affair with a staffer. That employee Calista, is now his wife.