Rick Perry withdraws from presidential race

Breaking news from CNN, which says two sources have informed it Texas Governor Rick Perry will drop his bid for the GOP presidential nomination today.  Further details to come after Perry releases an official statement. 

This leaves the GOP presidential field winnowed down to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul.  The next 300 debates will be much less crowded than the previous 1,200 were.

Perry was actually polling below Jon Huntsman in both South Carolina and Florida before Huntsman withdrew from the race.  Perry was pulling an average of about 7 percent nationally, after a disappointing finish in Iowa (well, as far as anybody knows, since the actual results of the Iowa caucuses are apparently an inscrutable mystery) and New Hampshire prospects so gloomy he didn’t even try to compete in the state.  South Carolina was his big hope for a comeback, but he only scored 3 or 4 percent in the last few polls for that state, taken as recently as yesterday.

Perry had a great campaign launch, and a great deal to recommend his leadership in Texas, but he made a crucial early mistake in picking a fight with much of the Republican base over in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants – opposition to which he famously characterized as “heartless.”  This came after he’d already taken a pounding over his desire to reform Social Security – which, in one of those bitter ironies of timing, I thought Perry was handling quite well.

Then came the Three Departments of Doom brain freeze, in which he couldn’t remember that the third government department he wants to eliminate is the Energy Department – a move that would be crucial to the energy plan that his campaign was heavily touting.  Perry made a phenomenal effort to come back from that, with engaging good humor and admirable humility, but it’s nearly impossible to recover from a gaffe like that, especially when the GOP electorate is so obviously concerned about their candidate flubbing debates against Obama, or melting under harsh media interrogations.

Perry’s last few debate performances were superb, but it was too late to salvage his campaign.  The people of Texas will be glad to have their Governor back.  If you’d like to live under a Perry Administration, in one of the rare states that hasn’t been devastated by Obamanomics, they’ve got plenty of room.

Update: Erick Erickson of Red State is hearing that Perry will not only endorse Newt Gingrich, but actively campaign for him:


I’m told reliably that Governor Perry will head up a 10th Amendment project for Speaker Gingrich to rally Governors and state legislators toward a plan of devolving power from Washington. This project will include helping shape the Republican platform for the general election, something small government conservatives have been concerned about.

Governor Perry will also campaign for Speaker Gingrich in Texas. Texas has more than enough delegates at 155 (and they are winner take all) to offset Newt Gingrich not being on the Virginia ballot, which only has 49 delegates.

Update: Video of Perry’s press conference, in which he did indeed strongly endorse Newt Gingrich as a “visionary,” is below.

Update: Newt Gingrich released a statement after receiving Perry’s endorsement:


I am humbled and honored to have the support of my friend Rick Perry.  His selflessness is yet another demonstration of his deep sense of citizenship and commitment to the cause of limited government, historic American values and greater freedom for every American.

Governor Perry will continue to be a leader for the cause of conservatism, especially for more American energy and for implementing the 10th Amendment across the country.

South Carolinians have a chance this Saturday to nominate a bold Reagan conservative who will offer a dramatic contrast with President Obama this fall in the general election.

I ask the supporters of Governor Perry to look at my record of balancing the budget, cutting spending, reforming welfare, and enacting pro-growth policies to create millions of new jobs and humbly ask for their vote.