As The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis tweeted, “Who is this guy and why doesn’t HE run for president???” South Carolina is Rick Perry’s last-ditch effort and he’s not even polling in the top three there. The outlook is bleak for Texas’ jobs governor, and we’re very nearly left with the thought of what might have been had he only been able to remember the Department of Energy. Then again, the gist of this ad is that Perry isn’t prepared to give up yet — and he’s never lost an election in his life. Do you believe in miracles?

Update (Allahpundit): Just to elaborate on the point that he’s not polling in the top three in SC, he’s actually not polling in the top five either. Right now he’s in sixth place at five percent, two points behind Jon Huntsman(!) in a southern state that was supposed to be one of his strongholds. Really. And for all the talk of him underperforming like Fred Thompson did, when you look at the numbers you realize that so far that comparison’s actually unfair to Fred.

There are a lot — a lot — of what-ifs to come after Perry finally throws in the towel, but here’s a good one from BuzzFeed. What if he hadn’t stumbled at the debates and Romney had continued pounding him on entitlements? Would he still be in contention?

But at a meet-and-greet with voters here today, Perry was reminded Thursday that he still hasn’t overcome the very first issue his opponents seized on this cycle: his early proposals to radically alter Social Security. The South Carolina exchange was a reminder that Perry’s challenges weren’t just stylistic, but would also have meant a fight to drag the Republican Party to the right on sensitive political issues.

After a fire-and-brimstone sermon on the waste and fraud that plagues federal entitlement programs, Perry invited a question from local resident Sheryl Cox, sitting right in front of him. A small business owner, Cox voiced concern over the candidate’s social security stance, and asked whether he grouped the retirement program with the entitlements he had just railed against.

“That’s my money,” she reminded him forcefully. “That’s my money.”

That would have been a debate worth having, but like I said earlier, you might not like the answers you get from Republican voters when you start asking certain difficult questions.

Exit question: Is that a little Tebowing I see happening at seven seconds in?