Rick Perry is expected to drop out later this morning at an 11 a.m. press conference, two sources confirmed to POLITICO. He’s also expected to endorse Newt Gingrich, the sources confirmed.
Sources told POLITICO that Gingrich and Perry had a secret meeting to discuss a possible endorsement.
Gingrich had been assiduously lobbying Perry officials in recent days, POLITICO has learned. The former House speaker has repeatedly texted Perry manager Joe Allbaugh.
It gives the surging Gingrich a huge boost heading into the final debate tonight, and the South Carolina primary on Saturday, in which he’s already closing in on Mitt Romney.
I guess things in the Perry camp are chaotic:
Perry, however, did not make the decision about exiting the race until the morning. But the discord within the Perry campaign was evident even as the candidate prepared to drop out.
Top officials in Texas said they were unaware of his intentions and as late as this morning said they genuinely didn’t know whether he was still running.
Gingrich refused to comment on news Thursday morning as he exited his campaign bus at a town hall in Bluffton, S.C.
This really is not much of a surprise; Perry just was not a good debater; he had the brain freeze at the first debate and that just ended it for him. Nobody wanted to take him seriously. This earlier report says more:
With two days to go, Perry polls among South Carolina Republicans at about 6 percent — the same number of people who said they had no opinion about whom they’d choose. His campaign has been damaged by defections – notably top donor Barry Wynn, who left Perry for Mitt Romney – and an inability to gain ground with the public, despite spending millions of dollars.
Behind the scenes, many fundraisers and supporters who once waxed ecstatic over Perry as the GOP’s white knight when he entered the race now say they’re deflated and upset that he didn’t appear ready for the task.
“It’s over. It’s long over. Sometimes things are finished before they’re over. It’s embarrassing to come out of the gate and get shot down, but it happens,” said a Perry fundraiser who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You’d think a guy who had 11 years in office … that he’d prepare, he’d read the paper and get prepared.”
Sad end to what could have been a good campaign. I wish Governor Perry the best.