Breaking news this morning that Texas Governor Rick Perry is ending his bid for the presidency in 2012 and will be lending his support to Newt Gingrich. This comes just days before the South Carolina primary and is destined to shuffle up the race. Needless to say there will be only 4 GOP candidates on stage at the CNN South Carolina debate tonight.
Report from The Wall Street Journal:
COLUMBIA, S.C.—Texas Gov. Rick Perry will drop out of the presidential race Thursday, according to people familiar with his decision.
Mr. Perry will endorse Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination, a senior figure in the governor’s campaign said. The endorsement comes just as polls suggest that Mr. Gingrich is closing in on front-runner Mitt Romney in South Carolina as voters prepare to cast ballots here Saturday.
Mr. Perry will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. to announce his decision, people familiar with the matter said.
Some conservative leaders, aiming to stop Mr. Romney’s momentum, had urged Mr. Perry to bow out and to help rally conservative voters around an alternative to Mr. Romney.
Mr. Perry’s departure narrows the GOP field to four leading candidates: Messrs. Romney and Gingrich, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Mr. Perry had been scheduled to speak Thursday morning at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Charleston, but he canceled his appearance. His announcement comes hours before a Republican debate Thursday night in Charleston, S.C.,
Mr. Gingrich, on his way into a campaign event Thursday, declined to comment when asked about Mr. Perry’s departure.
In the grand scheme of things, Perry was pulling somewhere between 5 and 7% in South Carolina which is a big number in such a tight race. Either Gingrich or Santorum will likely pickup Perry’s votes and this will surely make for a very close race on Saturday.