Perry drops out of GOP race
Rick Perry announced Friday he will suspend his presidential campaign, which has run out of money and largely subsisted on the work of volunteers.
“When I gave my life to Christ, I said, ‘Your ways are greater than my ways, your will superior to mine,’ ” Perry said in a speech at a forum in Missouri. “Today I submit that his will remains a mystery, but some things have become clear. That is why today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States.”
In interviews with staffers in recent days, Perry’s campaign acknowledged early missteps, saying it had overestimated its early fundraising abilities and directed too much money on national ad buys meant to boost the former Texas governor’s standing in the polls so he would make it to the prime-time stage for the first Republican presidential debate.
Perry’s staff in Iowa, which was once 10 strong and among the biggest campaign teams in the Hawkeye State, had been reduced to one paid staffer and a handful of unpaid volunteers.
Perry’s staff in South Carolina had similarly been cut to one paid member, and his team had pulled out of New Hampshire altogether.
Still, Perry’s announcement came as a shock to some staffers and supporters, who in interviews in recent days said they’d been assured fundraising had picked up and that the campaign was playing a long game with an eye on primaries in Iowa and South Carolina.
Perry’s senior adviser, Jamie Johnson, told The Hill on Thursday that the staff had been assured that the campaign had reversed its fundraising woes and that there was “no indication that the governor is intending to quit this campaign, and every indication that he intends to go the distance.”
On Friday, Johnson declined to say whether the news of Perry’s suspension came as a surprise, but he lauded Perry’s efforts to “advance virtue, liberty, justice, peace and prosperity in American life.”
“It has been an honor to serve Gov. Rick Perry as his national campaign’s senior director,” Johnson said in a statement to The Hill. “He is the most honorable public servant I have ever known, and I wish him and his family God’s richest blessings.”
Perry leaves the race just five days before the second Republican presidential debate. He also leaves behind a trio of well-funded super-PACs, which collected $17 million in the second quarter of the year.
The main super-PAC supporting Perry’s bid, the Opportunity and Growth Fund, has only spent about $3 million to date and had just booked another $250,000 in advertising in Iowa this week.
Austin Barbour, who runs the political action committee, told The Hill on Friday he was eyeing an ad buy in South Carolina next.
But Perry on Friday said he leaves with “no regrets.”
“It has been a privilege and an honor to travel this country, to speak with the American people about their hopes and dreams, to see a sense of optimism prevalent despite a season of cynical politics,” he said.
“As I approach the next chapter in life, I do so with the love of my life by my side, Anita Perry,” he continued. “We have our house in the country, we have two beautiful children and two adorable grandchildren, four dogs, and the best sunset from our front porch that you could ever imagine.”
Perry entered the 2016 race badly damaged by his disastrous 2012 campaign. He never gained traction this cycle and faced another appearance at a secondary debate for low-polling candidates.
Still, he impressed many conservatives with his 2016 run, demonstrating a stronger grasp of policy issues than he did in 2012.
And Perry’s brief 2016 campaign was not without its high notes.
The former Texas governor launched his bid with a well-received speech highlighting his military service at an airplane hangar outside of Dallas flanked by Marines, Navy SEALs, and Medal of Honor recipients.
In July, Perry gave an emotional speech at the National Press Club in Washington that The Wall Street Journal dubbed “the speech of the campaign so far.” There, he argued that Republicans had lost their “moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln” by ignoring the plight of African-Americans, whom he said the party has dismissed because “we found that we could win elections without” them.
He was the first candidate to take Donald Trump head on, denouncing the real estate mogul as “a cancer on conservatism” that “must be diagnosed, excised and discarded.”
“I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard,” Perry said at a July speech in Washington that earned him a standing ovation.
Perry took a parting shot at Trump in his Friday speech, nodding to the GOP font-runner’s controversial remarks on illegal immigrants by warning Republicans not to “indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation.”
Trump declined to fire back.
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