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Rick Perry Dropping Out of GOP Presidential Race

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Rick Perry drew his campaign to a close Thursday and threw his backing behind Newt Gingrich, just miles from where he launched his presidential bid over five months ago.

(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- Rick Perry will announce Thursday that he is dropping out of the race to become the Republican presidential nominee, ABC News has confirmed.

The Texas governor will hold a press conference in North Charleston, S.C., Thursday at 11 a.m. ET.

ABC News has also learned that Perry will endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for the nomination.

Perry's decision comes amid growing calls from conservatives who've urged him to end his presidential bid and a drop in confidence among supporters.

Many fundraisers who saw Perry as a suitable candidate to win the GOP 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 one of the government agencies 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.”

Perry's campaign has also 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.

His downfall is evident in South Carolina, where he is polling about 6 percent among the state's Republicans ahead of Saturday's primary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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