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Rick Perry Exits, Endorses Newt Gingrich

Texas Gov. Rick Perry officially withdrew from the GOP presidential contest this morning and put his support behind former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.).  

“There is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign,” he said in a news conference in North Charleston, S.C. “Today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States.

He called Gingrich a “conservative visionary.”

“Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” Perry added, alluding to Gingrich’s personal life. “The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God and I believe in the power of redemption, for it is a central tenet of my own Christian faith.”

The timing of the redemption comments comes on the same day that ABC News is to air an interview with Gingrich’s former wife Marianne, who claims he asked for an open marriage.

Perry’s withdrawal came on the same morning as the news out of Iowa that former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses, according to a final tally. 

It’s the second time Perry has managed to step on another candidate’s big news day. Perry’s announcement that he would run for president in early August overshadowed Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (Minn.) Ames straw poll win.

“We must rise to the occasion and elect a conservative champion to put our nation back on the right track,” Perry said in his final moments on the national stage.

“I’m not done fighting for the cause of conservatism,” Perry concluded. “As a matter of fact, I have just begun to fight.”

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