Texas Gov. Rick Perry came into the GOP race as a potential savior of an anemic primary field. He goes out as its weakest candidate.
Perry will hold a press conference at 11 am in North Charleston, South Carolina, where he is expected to announce he will drop out of the Republican primary for president, ending a campaign that began in mid-summer.
Gov. Perry was seen as the candidate that could unite a fractious Republican field, appealing to the Tea Party wing and the establishment. In the early going it seemed like Perry would be that person — he rocketed to the top of the polls nationally and in the first primary states, easily knocking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from his frontrunner status.
But Perry performed so poorly on the trail that he ended up falling as fast as he surged, and he leaves the race polling in the mid single digits. The Republican debates were a particular problem for the Texas governor — pundits who knew the Governor’s brand and even the candidate himself admitted that debating wasn’t his strongest suit. But it wasn’t just that Perry was a poor debater, he made numerous gaffes that became instant fodder for cable news soundbites and became an indelible mark. Among the top of these moments was when Perry couldn’t remember the three departments of the federal government he would eliminate, after which he simply said “oops.”
After Perry’s numbers fell off nationally, he attempted to make a run at the Iowa caucuses, blanketing the state with ads aimed at religious conservatives, hoping to gain some of the right wing that he had lost to other surging candidates as the race went on.
It didn’t work. Perry finished fifth with 10.3 percent of the vote in Iowa, and reports at the time indicated that he planned to head back to Texas and assess whether he would continue the race. But the morning after Iowa, Perry announced via Twitter that he was going to move on to South Carolina, which actually surprised some members of his own staff.
Perry didn’t make any headway by continuing — the latest TPM Poll Average of the race in South Carolina shows him with a mere 3.8 percent.
Reports also indicate that Perry will endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose campaign has picked up a number of Perry supports as he faltered. POLITICO reports that Perry and Gingrich have already met to discuss a possible endorsement.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.