Originally published on Advocate.com January 19 2012 5:20 PM ET
After a campaign memorable for its gaffes, brain freezes, and antigay rhetoric to best the most conservative of his rivals, Texas governor Rick Perry announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the 2012 presidential race and endorsing Newt Gingrich, two days prior to the South Carolina primary.
“This campaign has never been about the candidates,” Perry said in a news conference Thursday, where he repeatedly referenced his faith, Texan roots, and conservative principles. “I ran for president because I love America. I love our people, I love our freedom. As a matter of fact, this mission is greater than any one man.”
“What we need in Washington is a place that is humbler ... so our people can live freer,” Perry said. The country’s overriding goal, he said, should be to replace President Obama “with a conservative leader for real change.”
His endorsement for the person to bring about that change doesn’t quite match the “humble” criterion. To boot, Gingrich is facing what may be a bombshell ABC News interview with ex-wife Marianne Gingrich, who claims that the former House speaker wanted an “open marriage.”
“Newt is not perfect,” Perry said Thursday. “Who among us is? There is forgiveness for those who seek God.”
Perry’s statements against LGBT rights — both during the campaign and during his tenure as governor — are legion. Among them: comparing homosexuality to alcoholism and opposing the Obama administration’s December foreign policy announcement on global gay rights, which he slammed as “special rights.”
“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values ... his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights,” Perry said. “This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop. ... Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.”
Perry’s last-ditch attempt to woo social conservatives in Iowa included a TV ad where he blasted repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It proved to be among the most widely mocked political stunts of the race thus far, and did little to garner support. Perry finished fifth in Iowa, just above Rep. Michele Bachmann, who dropped her presidential bid one day after the state’s caucuses.
Perry skipped intensive campaigning in New Hampshire to focus on South Carolina, where he was polling at an abysmal 4% just prior to his announcement that he would exit the race.