Just days before the South Carolina Primary, Texas Gov. Rick Perry withdrew from the Republican Presidential Race. Thursday morning, at a press conference in Charleston, South Carolina, he endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, calling him “a conservative visionary who can transform this country.”
After a disappointing fifth place finish in the Iowa Caucus and a last place finish in New Hampshire, many pundits were surprised to see Perry competing in South Carolina at all. According to a CNN/Time poll conducted Wednesday, just 6% of likely South Carolina Republican primary voters claimed that they would be backing Perry.
Many saw Perry as the conservative challenger to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney after Perry surged in the polls when he announced his candidacy in late August. A series of gaffes along the campaign trail and in debates sent campaign staffers running for the hills and the Texas Governor plummeting in the polls.
Most recently, the Texas Governor sparked a mild international crisis when he referred to U.S. ally and the democratically elected government of Turkey as Islamic terrorists in this week’s South Carolina debate .
In what will surely be shown in political campaign classes for decades to come, Perry’s most cringe-inducing gaffe came in a debate in early November when the candidate claimed that as President he would eliminate three departments of government then failed to recall which ones. While not only painful to watch, the gaffe gave some voters the impression that Rick Perry was disingenuous about his plan to reduce the size of government. Americans tend to forgive mistakes, but not insincerity.
Still, the media missed the real story. The issue was not that Gov. Perry forgot which department of the Federal Government he would abolish but that he wanted to abolish them at all, without any substantial plan to replace their vital services with other agencies or through a transition to a privatized system.
In a last-ditch effort to revive his campaign, Perry began campaigning on a family values platform to sway social conservatives in Iowa. The Perry campaign released a TV spot in early December claiming that President Obama was waging a war on religion with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and falsely implied that the President was leading the charge against prayer in public schools. Liberals were horrified, conservatives smelled desperation and so the Perry campaign never regained any ground.
With Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman and now Rick Perry out of the race, Rick Santorum remains the only candidate left in the primary that is endorsed by God in the four way contest with Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Congressman Ron Paul. The CNN/Time Poll shows all-but-official GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s lead shrinking with 33% of likely South Carolina Primary voters backing him and 23% backing Gingrich, who is up 9 points from two weeks ago. Even in the unlikely event that all of Perry’s 6% of voters swing to Gingrich, Perry’s endorsement of the former House Speaker will not likely be enough to stop Romney’s momentum. Still, Rick Perry’s endorsement shows that the Republican party’s hard-right is still dissatisfied with Romney as the GOP nominee.
At the press conference Thursday morning, Gov. Perry stated that he plans to head back to Texas where he will presumably spend some time blowing off steam at the hunting camp formerly known as “N-Wordhead.” Perry said he was not done fighting for conservatism, adding that he’s only “just begun.” I bet the late night talk show hosts hope he never stops.
Timeline from the Star-Telegram of Rick Perry’s Failed Presidential Bid.