(WASHINGTON) — The way things are going, Rick Perry will be lucky if his campaign emerges from Saturday’s primary in South Carolina with a fraction of the support it had when the Texas governor announced his run for president.
With two days to go, Perry polls among South Carolina Republicans at about 6 percent — the same number of people who said they had no opinion about whom they’d choose. His campaign has been damaged by defections — notably top donor Barry Wynn, who left Perry for Mitt Romney — and an inability to gain ground with the public, despite spending millions of dollars.
Behind the scenes, many fundraisers and supporters who once were ecstatic over Perry as the GOP’s white knight when he entered the race now say they’re deflated and upset that he didn’t appear ready for the task.
“It’s over. It’s long over. Sometimes things are finished before they’re over. It’s embarrassing to come out of the gate and get shot down, but it happens,” said a Perry fundraiser who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You’d think a guy who had 11 years in office…that he’d prepare, he’d read the paper and get prepared.”
Supporters point to Perry’s poor performance in debates as the key moments when fundraising dried up. The biggest mistakes that cost him, they say, were his “oops” moment when he forgot a government agency he said he would cut, and when he said people who didn’t want to educate the children of illegal immigrants didn’t “have a heart.”
Those early stumbles froze what would have been important donations, fundraisers said, and the campaign has all but given up on trying to regain its mojo even as Perry soldiers on in South Carolina.
“Nobody calls, nobody works, nobody has any expectations that he’s gonna win,” the fundraiser said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio