CNN is reporting that Texas Gov. Rick Perry will drop out of the race for the Republican nomination today, just a couple of days ahead of the South Carolina primary, and endorse Newt Gingrich:
Rick Perry is telling supporters that he will drop his bid Thursday for the Republican presidential nomination, two sources familiar with his plans told CNN.
The Texas governor will make the announcement before the CNN debate in South Carolina, the sources said.
It was incredibly unlikely, given his poor debate performances and gaffes, that Perry would be able to make a comeback in the race. Perry had hoped for a decent showing in South Carolina, but polls there had showed him at the bottom of the pack.
Many influential conservatives had been calling on Perry to drop out of the race so the anti-Romney vote could coalesce behind Gingrich, who has been surging in South Carolina in recent days (I’ll have more on that later today).
Given Perry’s numbers may not be significant, but it could be just enough to put Gingrich over the top on Saturday.
In recent days, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), an outspoken fiscal conservative, has defended Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), noting that Republicans should embrace some libertarian ideas. DeMint also sees the risk many Republican take in their public criticism of Paul, who has an incredibly dedicated group of followers, many of whom are young.
This led to rumors of an endorsement yesterday on Twitter and Facebook before the all important South Carolina primary. But DeMint, keeping with a statement he made a couple of months ago, has said he will not endorse:
One of the most sought-after South Carolina politicians said Monday he would not endorse a candidate ahead of the Palmetto State’s primary.
Sen. Jim DeMint, who has offered praise to all of the candidates in the field, said in a statement, “I do not have a favorite in this race and I will not endorse a candidate.”
DeMint said his stance reflected the view of many voters in South Carolina.
“I’ve gotten to know each of the candidates over the past year and they are all far superior to Obama,” DeMint said. “My view reflects what I’ve heard from Republican voters across South Carolina who remain divided in this race.”
DeMint would have been a big get for any candidate in the GOP field, given his high regard among conservative voters. Many of the contenders have met with the senator in person, looking to gain his backing.
Despite the confident tone of his concession speech in New Hampshire and receiving a glowing endorsement from an influential South Carolina newspaper, Jon Huntsman has decided to end his bid for the Republican nomination and endorse Mitt Romney:
Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican presidential race on Monday, a campaign spokesman told ABC News.
A source close to the Huntsman campaign said the former ambassador to China and Utah governor was “proud of the race that he ran” but “did not want to stand in the way” of rival Mitt Romney, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.
Huntsman plans to endorse Romney at an 11 a.m. press conference Monday in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
After a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire — a contest on which he had staked his candidacy — Huntsman vowed to fight on. In his concession speech in New Hampshire, he told his supporters: “I say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman! Hello, South Carolina!”
A Huntsman aide tells ABC News that the decision came in the wake of the results of the New Hampshire primary.
“He has been discussing with his family after they woke up after a successful evening in New Hampshire. They felt good about their performance in New Hampshire, but he and his family had a discussion and this is the decision they came to,” the aide said. “At the end of the day he decided he did not want to hurt the best chance of beating Barack Obama and that’s Mitt Romney. By continuing into South Carolina and Florida, that’s what he would have been doing.”
In my brief primer yesterday on the New Hampshire primary, I noted that Mitt Romney needed at least 40% of the vote in order for his “win” not to be considered a “loss.” By that I mean that conservatives in the anti-Romney faction of the GOP were going to point to that as a “proof” that Romney winning the nomination isn’t inevitable.
With 98% of precincts reporting, Romney won 39.3% of the vote — a slightly higher percentage that John McCain took in 2008. While it’s not quite 40%, based on what I’m hearing and reading this more from many anti-Romney conservatives (many of whom where firmly behind him four years ago), it’s close for them to read the writing on the wall.
So what does this mean? I suspect that we’re about to see things get very nasty with Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich stepping up their attacks Romney. Rick Perry will probably wind up attacking everyone, particularly Gingrich and Romney.
Huntsman’s has a ceiling. If he doesn’t catch fire in the next two or three weeks, he’ll have a tough time justifying sticking around until Super Tuesday. That’s just reality. You may say, “Well, he finished third in New Hampshire. That counts for something.” No, it doesn’t. Huntsman based in campaign there. That’s why his poor showing in Iowa didn’t matter.
For Huntsman, a third place finish in New Hampshire is no better than finishing last since Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum weren’t really contesting the state. Those three have their eyes set on South Carolina, where Huntsman isn’t going to be nearly as competitive. He will, at best, cut into Romney’s numbers and possibly hand the state to Santorum or Gingrich.
If you’ve spent enough time around here, you know that I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney. He hasn’t given conservatives or libertarians a real reason to support him given that he is unapologetic for RomneyCare, which served as the blueprint for ObamaCare.
However, there has been some criticism of Romney that is out of bounds. When Newt Gingrich was being attacked last month for lobbying services as a historian for Freddie Mac, the former Speaker fired back, suggesting that Romney should “give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain.”
This populist line of attack from a so-called conservative is troubling since it sounds like it could have come from Barack Obama, and it no doubt will in the fall. David Harsanyi, at the time, criticized Gingrich for his anti-capitialist tone and defended Romney:
With Iowa out of the way, our attention shifts to New Hampshire where, according to the latest poll from Suffolk University, shows Mitt Romney ahead by a wide margin over his rivals for the Republican nomination:
- Mitt Romney: 41%
- Ron Paul: 18%
- Rick Santorum: 8%
- Newt Gingrich: 7%
- Jon Huntsman: 7%
- Michele Bachmann: 1%
- Buddy Romer: 1%
- Rick Perry: 0%
- Undecided: 17%
Other polls, as noted in this morning’s headlines, show Santorum gaining a bit more of a bump than Suffolk University, which is doing daily tracking of New Hampshire. However, New Hampshire really isn’t fertile ground for Santorum anyway. His next hurdle is South Carolina. Perry’s numbers, of lack thereof, in New Hampshire will be easy to shrug off since he is also focused on the Palmetto State.
Here are some details on the numbers:
Romney’s drop was driven by the three conservative counties of Belknap, Merrimack, and Strafford in central New Hampshire, where his 16 point advantage over Paul shrunk to just an 8 percent lead while Santorum grew to 10 percent there.
Paul is winning 24 percent of Independent voters, which is limiting Jon Huntsman’s ability to grow with Independents. Despite improved strength, Paul still trails Romney by 13 percentage points among Independents. Santorum is now winning 13 percent of conservatives and 13 percent of women ages 18-44 years as he sets his sights on Paul.
Huntsman has staked his campaign in New Hampshire, so a third place finish could make him rethink sticking around for Super Tuesday, which is too bad. Most of us, myself included, never really gave him a fair shake.
It certainly sounded, on Tuesday evening, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry was about get out of the race for the GOP’s presidential nomination. But by yesterday afternoon, Perry said he was still in the race and headed for South Carolina:
Perry tweeted a message to supporters earlier in the day suggesting he would remain in the Republican presidential race.
“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State … Here we come South Carolina!!!” Perry tweeted from his account, along with a picture of himself, dressed in workout gear, giving a thumbs-up to the camera.
“I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me,” Perry told reporters, according to The Des Moines Register.
“It’s there, it’s clearly there,” he said, apparently speaking of the path forward for his campaign.
Perry also knocked the process in Iowa and suggested that many caucus-goers weren’t “real Republicans,” which was a probably a poor move. In fact, saying in the race is probably a poor move. Perry is currently polling, according to Real Clear Politics, at 5.7% in South Carolina; far behind Newt Gingrich, who leads in the state, and Mitt Romney.
During his classless concession speech last evening, Newt Gingrich claimed that his campaign stayed positive, unlike others in the race. This has been a complaint in the last of couple weeks from Gingrich. During a TV interview yesterday, Gingrich called Romney a “liar,” a charge that stems from attack ads against him from a “super PAC” supporting Romney.
Reading between the lines from last night, Gingrich certainly seems ready to run a scorched earth campaign against Romney the rest of the way. It’s going to get nasty, folks:
After criticizing Romney for running a negative campaign and promising to stay positive, Gingrich appeared before supporters to criticize the former Massachusetts governor as someone who couldn’t bring change to Washington. He also planned to run television ads against Romney in the next three states to vote - New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
The former House speaker called Romney a “Massachusetts moderate who, in fact, is pretty good at managing the decay.” He said the ex-governor has “given no evidence in his years in Massachusetts of any ability to change the culture or change the political structure.”
Gingrich’s planned a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader that was to appear as he touched down in the state early Wednesday. It labels Gingrich a “Bold Reagan Conservative” and Romney a “Timid Massachusetts Moderate.”
At least one pro-Gingrich super PAC also was getting into the mix.
Even though the Iowa caucus is over with and his surge is likely to be short-lived, Rick Santorum’s nephew, John Garver, wrote an piece for The Daily Caller that was run yesterday explaining that while he loves his uncle, he can’t support him and will instead back Ron Paul:
If you want another big-government politician who supports the status quo to run our country, you should vote for my uncle, Rick Santorum. America is based on a strong belief in individual liberty. My uncle’s interventionist policies, both domestic and foreign, stem from his irrational fear of freedom not working.
It is not the government’s job to dictate to individuals how they must live. The Constitution was designed to protect individual liberty. My Uncle Rick cannot fathom a society in which people cooperate and work with each other freely. When Republicans were spending so much money under President Bush, my uncle was right there along with them as a senator. The reason we have so much debt is not only because of Democrats, but also because of big-spending Republicans like my Uncle Rick.
It is because of this inability of status quo politicians to recognize the importance of our individual liberties that I have been drawn to Ron Paul. Unlike my uncle, he does not believe that the American people are incapable of forming decisions. He believes that an individual is more powerful than any group (a notion our founding fathers also believed in).
There had been some speculation over the last few months that Ron Paul may decide to continue his campaign as a third party or independent candidate, but The Weekly Standard picked up some comments yesterday by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that offers some insight into what his inner circle may be thinking:
Following an interview at a Des Moines radio station, I asked Rand Paul if he has encouraged his father to stay in the Republican party if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination. ”I’m encouraging him to try to win the Iowa primary. It’s kind of hard to think about leaving your party when you might be the nominee,” he said.
Asked if he would support his father as a third-party candidate, Paul replied: ”I’ve always said I think the Tea Party movement is best and most effective within the Republican party. The Tea Party movement as a separate movement would divide some of the Republican vote.”
“I have not been publicly in favor of a third party candidate and I have not been in favor of the Tea Party splitting off,” Paul said. “But I think people really need to rethink that question when a guy’s leading the polls in Iowa—to be asking about running as a third party when we’re still talking about winning the Republican nomination.”
The second paragraph is key, and it’s not just a concern about keeping the Tea Party movement unified. Even though Ron Paul is retiring and would seemingly have nothing to worry about in terms of punishment from running as an independent or third party candidate, such a move would probably hurt his son’s political career. You may say that’s not fair or deny that this would actually happen, but politics has a cruel way of eventually coming back around.