Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday morning announced he is suspending his campaign for president, saying at a press conference in North Charleston, South Carolina, “the mission is greater than the man.” Perry endorsed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, saying “Newt is not perfect, but who among us is.”
Perry continued on that theme, saying he was proud of the campaign that he ran, but as his time is up, the next step is for the Republican primary to find someone that can win in 2012.
“Our party, and the conservative philosophy transcends any one individual,” he said. “It’s a movement of ideas that are greater than any one of us, and will live long past any of us in our lives. As a former Air Force pilot, I don’t get confused. I know we can’t lose track of the ultimate objective in carrying out our mission, and that objective is not only to defeat President Obama, but to replace him with a conservative leader who will bring about real change.”
“I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement,” Perry said. “The courage to tell those Washington interests to take a hike if if that’s what’s in the best interest of our country.”
Gingrich embraced Perry’s endorsement, calling him a “great patriot” who “understands exactly the mission of defending and expanding freedom and he understands that every citizen has different ways to participate.” Newt even asked Perry to work on a “10th Amendement enforcement project, reaching out to every government, reaching out to state legislatures, working with conservative legislators in Washington so we can have a strong platform plank in Tampa in August,” referring to the Republican National Convention.
Bill Miller, an Austin political consultant and lobbyist who supported the Texas Gov., told TPM’s Benjy Sarlin that Perry was being pushed to exit the race after his fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses, but nothing had changed all that much before his exit on Thursday. “I do believe supporters and staff urged him to strongly consider the path he chose,” he said. “I don’t think it is Gingrich’s rise in the polls as much as his own lack thereof. He’s been hearing it since Iowa.”
The man currently locked in a sprint to the finish in South Carolina, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, immediately came out with a statement praising the Texas Gov. “Rick Perry ran a campaign based upon love of country and conservative principles,” Romney said. “He has earned a place of prominence as a leader in our party and I salute him for his commitment to making President Obama a one-term president and finally getting our nation’s economy back on the right track. The nation owes Governor Perry a debt of gratitude for his years of service to his state and country. I wish Anita and him well.”
Perry said that he would return to Texas, feeling no different than he did when he started his campaign. “I’m not done fighting for the cause of conservatism. As a matter of fact, I have just begun to fight.”
Here’s the vid of his speech:
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.