BREAKING: Perry drops out, endorses Gingrich
January 19th, 2012
11:18 AM ET
11 years ago

BREAKING: Perry drops out, endorses Gingrich

(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry suspended his struggling presidential campaign Thursday and threw his support to Newt Gingrich, a development that could alter the dynamics of the Republican race just two days before the tightening South Carolina primary.

"I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country. We've had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have, and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?" Perry said at a press conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. ET for the CNN/Southern Republican Presidential Debate hosted by John King and follow it on Twitter at #CNNDebate. For real-time coverage of the South Carolina primary, go to or to the CNN apps or CNN mobile web site.

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Perry said "there is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign."

"I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement. The courage to tell those Washington interests to take a hike if that's what's in the best interest of our country," Perry said.

Shortly after Perry's speech, the former House speaker said he was "honored and very humbled to have Perry's endorsement.

"He understands exactly the mission of defending and expanding freedom and he understands that every citizen has different ways to participate," Gingrich said at a press conference in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Perry made the final decision Wednesday night and spoke with Gingrich on the phone shortly before he held the press conference Thursday morning, one source close to the Perry campaign said.

"He believes we need a conservative for president and Mitt Romney is not conservative," the source said.

Speaking to reporters Thursday after the announcement, Perry's spokesman Ray Sullivan said the governor will return to Austin and remain there through the weekend. While there are no plans for Perry to campaign for Gingrich at this time, he said those plans will be re-evaluated after Saturday's South Carolina primary.

Asked if Perry's wife, Anita, agreed with the governor's decision, Sullivan said the family is all "supportive."

The move comes two days before the South Carolina primary and hours before the final debate ahead of the voting, which will take place on CNN Thursday night.

The campaigns of Gingrich and Rick Santorum reached out to the Perry campaign Thursday morning in an "aggressive effort" to get his endorsement, according to a source close to Perry.

Perry placed fifth in Iowa and last in New Hampshire - a state in which he did not actively compete - and had said he would launch a bid to win in South Carolina.

"South Carolinians are looking for a conservative candidate that will get this country back working again and I am it," Perry told CNN last week.

On Wednesday, CNN asked Perry about a poll that showed him with only 6% support among likely voters in the South Carolina primary. He insisted he was continuing with the effort to have a strong showing in the state.

"We're convinced that that's our goal, so the idea that we're going to do anything else, other than try to impact this election is - that's why we got in it," he said. "We didn't get in it because it was our purpose in life to be the president of the United States. We did it because it was our purpose to serve this country, and that's what we've been called for, and that's what we're going to continue doing."

When Perry entered the race in August, he immediately did well in the polls. But a series of gaffes, particularly at debates against his rivals, sent his support plummeting.

On Thursday, his campaign website continued to say "help Rick Perry win South Carolina and get America back on track."

Perry's official campaign Facebook page was filled with posts, largely from disappointed voters.

- CNN's Dana Bash, Mark Preston, Josh Levs and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Also see:

FIRST ON CNN: Perry dropping out of GOP race

Polls: South Carolina primary tightening hours before crucial debate

Gingrich as compares Romney's 'desperate' attacks to 2008 campaign

Romney the establishment, Santorum the 'rebel,' ad says

Filed under: 2012 • Rick Perry
soundoff (307 Responses)
  1. dick perrie

    i wonder if god told him to quit?

    January 19, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Reggie from LA

    So what will happen after Newt's 1st wife Marrianne drops some bombs tonight on ABC I believe. I wonder how damaging that would be. Some people did not want this nasty fighting, but the truth needs to come out. Happened to Obama. These fella's campaigns will have to endure some scrutiny.

    January 19, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. normajean @ verizon ,com

    There wasn't anyone to start with and there isn't anyone left......The Repubs should just give up!!!!!

    January 19, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Destine

    And that's a good thing? Foolish for Perry, to support a guy who cheated on his wives. AND Newts current wife was the other woman for 13 yrs and she expects us women to embrace her as a first lady and role model? We don't need anymore liars on the home front in the white house, and yes, we women do think lying at home effects a man's work.

    January 19, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. mfx3

    Endorsing Newt...Perry can't even quit without making an OOPS...

    January 19, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. nathan

    What a cast of characters these GOPers are. LULZ.

    January 19, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. bspurloc

    when god tells u to run, u run on FAITH not polls....
    Well that is if u really are religious which he isnt. Tebow would never drop out.....

    January 19, 2012 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. PREZ

    This clown was gonna be another GWbush in office....last thing we need right now!

    January 19, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Dot8

    Obama is liking his chances, Gingrich and Romney are fake front-runners and Perry was running on flat tires, so he deserves to drop out.

    January 19, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  10. paul

    PPPFFFFFTTTT!!!!!! Yeah, this endorsement will REALLY help Newt....NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  11. Arlene

    This NON-cult, free-spirited, educated, choice-making Mormon voter is happy to see you go Mr. Perry!!

    January 19, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. rexedie

    good job..... i hope they put all the eggs in the "Newt Basket"..... then drop it off Goldman Sach's.....

    January 19, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Brian

    dangit, about a month late but I'll still take it... At least he had the decency to endorse Newt and not mutt

    January 19, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. John

    On his way out the swinging doors this wild Texan turned and put a couple more rounds into that "corporate, job-kiling quasi-Christian" who will be carrying these wounds into battle with Obama. Obama is first and foremost a pragmatist, so there is no doubt that he'll exploit these wounds poking them with a stick all the way to election day. RNC must be livid.

    January 19, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Poindexter718

    Gov. Perry's amply-funded presidential juggernaut was the most spectacular, high-profile faceplant since Waterworld or New Coke! And there are three reasons for it:
    1. He's a cretin;
    2. He's a swaggering Texas governor and the last one of those didn't turn out so well and;
    3. Ummm... hemenna–hemenna ....oops

    January 19, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Steve the Athiest

    I guess god was mistaken when he told Rick to run huh?

    January 19, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. TomGI

    Now no more changing your mind. I think the last time this rumor leaked you popped back and said it wasn't true. Ok so back to your state job and let's not hear any more nonsense from you until 2016. No more free publicity or speech making.

    January 19, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Aerin

    Perry is a complete idiot. Good riddance.

    January 19, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Eclem321

    The projects that Romney has been involved with have blossomed. He may be stiff, but he gets the job done. Despite being a Rep. in a dem state he managed to and get things done and stick by his principles... which seen higher than newt or obama. Not sure who will win the nomination or the presidency, but I think the country would be better led by Romney, than Newt or Obama.

    January 19, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Nana Egyir

    Only the truth shall set us free indeed. Leaders and aspiring leaders with such immoral background make themselves disgraceful and scornful if they aspire to be leaders and Presidents of a nation. It may be all right for some under developing countries but not United States of America that exemplifies and exports its democracy. Gingrich must suspend his campaign dreams immediately before tonight debate. As an aspiring president, it’s very scornful of the job and its moral discipline. In Gingrich's world of politics he defines CHRISTIAN marriage as "OPEN DOOR MUTUAL AGREEMENT" under the God we trust.

    January 19, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. sortakinda

    Now, are we certain that Perry knows which one is Gingrich?

    January 19, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. ProperVillain

    A nitwit drops out only to endorse a bigger nitwit. Wow, the political landscape of this country is beyond pathetic...

    January 19, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. GD

    Ughhh...the only candidate worse than Obama is Gingrich. So my choices for president are:

    * The currently worst president this nation has ever seen (Obama), or...
    * The future worst president this nation will ever see (Gingrich)

    Obama wins either way...he either gets reelected, or he is no longer the worst president ever.

    January 19, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Vic of New York

    Conservatives are the the weeds Christ spoke about. You have to let them grow with the crop, and then cast them aside at the Harvest.

    January 19, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Dan

    I'm sure that Romney is glad that he didn't get Perry's endorsement.

    January 19, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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