Prominent conservative blogger calls for Perry to exit presidential race

Prominent conservative blogger Erick Erickson on Wednesday called for Rick Perry to drop out of the presidential race immediately in order to stop Mitt Romney from being the GOP nominee.

The RedState.com founder has been a longtime fan of Perry's, although he officially endorsed the Texas governor. This move is the latest blow to the one-time front-runner, who finished poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire and is in last place in South Carolina, his campaign headquarters, according to most polls.

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"If Rick Perry stays in the race, conservatives opposed to Mitt Romney will be legitimately able to blame Rick Perry for dragging down either Newt [Gingrich] or [Rick] Santorum," Erickson wrote on his blog. "Rick Perry’s campaign has come to an end. But he could leave on an unexpected high note — helping conservatives unite around one not-Romney in a way no one else has been able to. Rick Perry could be the catalyst and kingmaker so many have been looking for, even as other conservatives have stood by, unwilling to endorse in the face of long odds."

Erickson has long fought to stop Romney in the primary process, and while he praised Perry in the statement he made it clear he thought the best course of action for the Texas governor going forward was to leave the race. He's encouraged him to back former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whom he said has the best chance of stopping Romney in South Carolina.

"Rick Perry has come this far motivated by his faith and his principles. He has fought the good fight. He has not forgotten what is due to his own honor and that of his country. But now he has a choice to make, and I wish him wisdom in it," he wrote. "Either Rick Perry will leave the race Sunday with no political capital and no deposit of goodwill an endorsement would bring, or he will choose to strike one final blow for limited government conservatism."

Erickson is not the first conservative to call for Perry to drop out — radio personality Laura Ingraham, who has remained neutral in the race, said the same thing earlier Wednesday.

"It's time for Rick Perry to drop out of the race — he is only helping Romney by splitting the vote," she tweeted.

Gingrich also has argued Perry and Santorum should drop out to help his candidacy and stop Romney.

Read Erickson's full post here.