Perry exit planned to boost anti-Romney Gingrich vote

Texas Governor Rick Perry will end his limping bid for the presidency with an announcement scheduled this morning, just two days before voters go to the polls in the crucial South Carolina Republican primary. The timing is aimed to boost support for Newt Gingrich, whose popularity among voters has been climbing again after he unleashed a barrage of attacks on Romney over the last two weeks, painting him as an arch job-killing vulture capitalist, and after Romney declined to appear last night at an anti-abortion forum in Greenville.

There has been no announcement yet from the Colorado Perry campaign, which is headed by Republican US Rep Mike Coffman (CD6). Coffman embraced Perry early in the race but has seemed to distance himself from the candidate as Perry clearly struggled on the national stage. Coffman faces reelection this year in a district recently remade from a GOP stronghold into a competitive district divided roughly equally among independent, Republican and Democratic voters.

CNN broke the news of the coming Perry announcement but Politico offered a cautionary note, referring to the disarray of the Perry campaign that has made his candidacy unpredictable.

“The discord in Perryworld 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.”

The news will come as a disappointment for a bloc of conservatives led by Erick Erickson at national Tea Party blog RedState, who have embraced Perry as a true conservative while excoriating his staff as incompetent.

Erickson wrote this morning of the inevitable end of the Perry campaign, forecasting coming events.

In a post titled “Hero or Spoiler,” he lamented the turn the primary has taken, where unreliably conservative Romney is marching to the nomination, in part because his opponents have split the anti-Romney Tea Party vote.

Yesterday, I argued that Rick Perry should leave the GOP primary in advance of Saturday’s election and endorse Newt Gingrich, who is the most logical fit in the existing field for a Perry endorsement.

The Perry campaign responded that the race would be decided by voters, not pundits behind a computer.

Fair enough. Rick Perry does not want to be seen as a quitter. But quit he will. I do not want him to quit. I urged him to stay in the race. But sadly his campaign has been unable to get the second look I thought it deserved…

It may suck, but it is reality. And we are forced at times like this to deal with reality. The reality is that Rick Perry will be quitting the race, but he is not quitting the fight, which has always been more important…

It’s not like I relish taking this position. I introduced Rick Perry at the 2011 RedState Gathering as the next President of the United States. He remains the best qualified man to be President. I would be thrilled to have him as my President. But he is polling in last place and there are three days to go. It isn’t going to happen.

But throwing his support to one of the other non-Romney candidates could help that person win.

Rick Perry will quit…. The question is whether he will quit before Saturday’s primary and help someone else win as a hero and king maker, or will he quit next week and see Mitt Romney win with Perry serving as the spoiler, keeping either Gingrich or Santorum from winning.

Perry’s joining the race for the nomination last fall generated great enthusiasm but his repeat gaffes and clear casting about on foreign policy questions conjured a sort of caricature version of George W Bush, the last Texas governor to win the White House and a man whose recently past presidency remains deeply controversial and unpopular among Americans on the right and left.