Former GOP frontrunner Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race Thursday morning and endorsed Newt Gingrich. The Texas governor saw his fortune’s rapidly rise and fall weeks after entering the campaign.
“Our objective is not only to beat President Obama, but to replace him with a conservative leader who will bring about real change,” Perry said. “We need bold, conservative leadership that will take on the entrenched interests and bring our country back.”
Perry entered the race on August 13, the same day as the Ames Straw Poll, and immediately vaulted to the top of the polls nationally and in the early states. Then, some disastrous debate performances sunk Perry’s numbers. It was one of the most rapid collapses in presidential campaign history.
He finished a disappointing fifth place in Iowa and sixty in New Hampshire. Perry hoped to regain his momentum by skipping the New Hampshire primary and campaigning immediately in South Carolina, which has a more social conservative base. That momentum boost never came. Perry leaves the race with poll numbers languishing in the low single digits.
Newt Gingrich is running second in the South Carolina polls and this endorsement comes at a crucial time for the former House Speaker. A heavily hyped ABC interview with one of Gingrich’s ex-wives airs tonight. Depending on what she says, it could have an effect on Saturday’s South Carolina primary.
Additionally, the debate stage is now reduced to just four candidates. That means tonight’s two hour debate on CNN will provide substantial time for the remaining candidates to contrast their records and stances with each other.
“I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country,” Perry said during his announcement. “We’ve had our differences…and Newt is not perfect, but who is?” Perry then stressed the country’s Christian values and the need for forgiveness. That could have been a preemptive strike to thwart the impact of tonight’s interview with Gingrich’s former wife.
“I have no question that Newt has the heart of a conservative,” Perry said, adding that he plans to remain in the fight for conservative values. Perry was reelected last year and is in the midst of his third term as Texas governor.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com