The departure of Rick Perry from the contest to be the Republican presidential nominee is not hugely surprising. It probably just came 72 hours before everyone expected.
The Texas Governor was a late entrant into the race – some people insist he had to be talked into running by his wife – and immediately surged to the top of the opinion polls. As a social conservative, strong on issues like abortion and gay marriage, he appealed to the right wing core of the party. He is a smooth political operator. I’ve witnessed him work and charm a room and connect with people on an individual level. He is an impressive politician.
But his big problem was the debates. There have been a lot of them and he hasn’t done well. In the most recent, the one that turned out to be Perry’s last, he described Turkey as being led by ‘Islamic terrorists’. It drew sharp criticism from a country that has long regarded itself as a strong US ally in a difficult region.
But he will be remembered for not remembering. He tried to recall the three government departments he would chop if he ever became President, could only name two and for a painful, cringe inducing 53 seconds stumbled and stuttered before punctuating the awfulness of the moment with an embarrassed “Oops”.
From that moment, his ratings began to drop and he never really recovered. He limped home in fifth place in the first selection contest, the Iowa caucus, and announced he was to go back to Texas to consider what to do with his campaign. To all eyes, it appeared Perry was calling it quits. But after a jog the next morning, he decided he would re-enter the race and try to take South Carolina. He poured time, money and effort into the Palmetto state, but still couldn’t move his opinion poll ratings out of single figures.
After consulting with his wife and campaign aides on Wednesday night, he decided to avoid the embarrassment of a last place finish and left the stage while throwing his endorsement towards rival Newt Gingrich.
Many in the Republican party who don’t want Mitt Romney as the nominee thought Rick Perry was the answer. Unfortunately for him he folded because he couldn’t answer the questions asked of a prospective President.
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