After a bruising fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses, Governor Rick Perry says he will return to Texas and consider whether to stay in the Republican presidential primary.
“With a little prayer and reflection, I’m going to decide the best path forward,” Perry said to supporters at his Iowa campaign headquarters in Des Moines. (Watch Perry's speech here.)
Perry officially declared his candidacy at a South Carolina rally on August 13 and quickly surged to the top of the polls, but his luster was tarnished after a series of embarrassing debate performances culminating in his infamous “Oops” moment, a gaffe so blundering that it became a cultural touchstone.
But it wasn’t just Perry’s incoherence that cost him support. Some conservatives recoiled after he labeled as “heartless” anyone who didn’t support a Texas policy to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. Perry was also harmed by an executive order he issued in 2007 that mandated young girls receive a vaccine against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease.
As results began to trickle in this evening, and it became clear that Perry would finish with about 10 percent support, at least one prominent social conservative urged the governor to step aside and avoid splitting the religious right.
"Bachmann, Perry and to some extent Gingrich, they all need to reassess their campaigns," outspoken social conservative Bob Vander Plaats told the Wall Street Journal. "What Romney doesn't want is to go head-to-head with Santorum. If he does he's going to get beat."
Earlier in the evening, Republican political consultant Steve Schmidt, who orchestrated Arizona Senator John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008, said Perry’s campaign was no longer “plausible” after tonight.
“It’s going to be emotional in the Rick Perry suite tonight,” Schmidt said on MSNBC, according to the Houston Chronicle. “No one wants to be the first person on the phone to say ‘It’s over for you.’”