CNN reports that Rick Perry will withdraw from the Republican presidential race today, based on information from two sources in the campaign. No one who followed the polling can be surprised by this decision. Perry has not come out of the mid-single digits in South Carolina for weeks, and his debate performance on Monday was good but no game changer. The question for Perry was why he bothered to continue at all after his expensive poor showing in Iowa and his non-entity status in New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Politico reports that Perry will endorse Newt Gingrich for the nomination on his way out:
Rick Perry is expected to drop out later this morning at an 11 a.m. press conference and endorse Newt Gingrich, two sources confirmed to POLITICO.
Maggie Haberman and David Catanese call this “a huge boost” for Gingrich, but Perry was only polling 5-6% in South Carolina. Jon Huntsman’s endorsement of Mitt Romney would have been equally “huge.” However, it does hurt Rick Santorum, who had gotten the endorsement of the collected social conservatives last week from their meeting in Texas, and who could have used the boost. It also may close the gap in South Carolina between Gingrich and Mitt Romney, since polling we’ll review later shows Gingrich closing the gap, and it will definitely put more pressure on Santorum to toss in the towel to back a single Romney alternative, which is ironic considering the news from Iowa this morning.
We’ll have more as this develops.
Update: ABC’s report on Perry, before this news broke, implies that his donor base had to tell him it was over:
With two days to go, Perry polls among South Carolina Republicans at about 6 percent — the same number of people who said they had no opinion about whom they’d choose. His campaign has been damaged by defections – notably top donor Barry Wynn, who left Perry for Mitt Romney – and an inability to gain ground with the public, despite spending millions of dollars.
Behind the scenes, many fundraisers and supporters who once waxed ecstatic over Perry as the GOP’s white knight when he entered the race now say they’re deflated and upset that he didn’t appear ready for the task.
“It’s over. It’s long over. Sometimes things are finished before they’re over. It’s embarrassing to come out of the gate and get shot down, but it happens,” said a Perry fundraiser who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You’d think a guy who had 11 years in office … that he’d prepare, he’d read the paper and get prepared.”
Perhaps this will be a lesson to future candidates that a parachute drop in the later period of the primary debating cycle is a bad idea.
Update II: The ending is as undisciplined as the campaign, it seems:
The discord in Perryworld was evident even as the candidate prepared to drop out.
Top officials in Texas said they were unaware of his intentions and as late as this morning said they genuinely didn’t know whether he was still running.