Done and Dusted

Rick Perry suspends presidential campaign, endorses Gingrich

Done and Dusted

Recognizing the political reality everyone else has known since his dire Iowa caucus showing, Rick Perry has announced he is suspending his presidential campaign – and on his way out he jabs a thumb in the eyes of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and the Evangelical movement.

In a Charleston, South Carolina press suite devoid of supporters (seen his polling numbers? They're not easy to find) but filled with press, staffers and family, Perry conceded what everyone already knew: "There is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign." Instead, he is throwing his weight behind Newt Gingrich, which could be a momentum-changer for the former House speaker, who will need a boost before Saturdays' Palmetto State primary to catch up with Romney.

Santorum must have double reason to be furious: Not only did Perry go Newt, but this announcement stamps all over the breaking news from Iowa that the former US Senator actually won their caucus. In a "Dewey Wins!"-style moment, the final certified numbers show that he beat Romney 29,839 to 29,805. The Evangelicals that have picked Santorum as their pet project must be livid as well, especially after Perry has courted them so hard: Then again, considering that Perry launched his campaign with the bizarre tent revival stunt of The Response and they still went with the other Rick, there's probably little love lost there.

It's a mixed blessing for Romney. Sure, it cuts down on those "Santorum Wins" headlines, but the 2-0 narrative is broken going into South Carolina, and the "anyone but Mitt" vote field is still broad but narrowing fast.

The big winner must be Gingrich. Not only does it distract from the latest revelations about his serial infidelity, but he desperately needs a win in South Carolina to stay relevant. Not that Perry's 5% showing gets him all the way there, but it puts him within margin of error for an upset over Romney.

The only question now: Does Perry really head back to Texas for a series of awkward meetings about a catastrophically bad campaign, or does he immediately head out on the stump for Gingrich?

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Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, The Perry Trap, Election 2012, 2012 Primaries

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