Rick Perry Ends Presidential Bid, Endorses Newt Gingrich

Allison Joyce/Getty Images(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- 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.

“As I’ve contemplated the future of this campaign, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign.  Therefore, today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for President of the United States,” Perry said in a hotel conference room.

“As a Texan, I never shy away from a fight, particularly when I consider the cause to be righteous, but as someone who’s always admired a great if not the greatest Texas governor, Sam Houston, I know when it’s time to make a strategic retreat.  So I will leave the trail, return home to Texas, wind down my 2012 campaign. I will do so with pride, knowing I gave fully of myself of a cause worthy of this country”

Perry, who said in the past that voters should consider issues of fidelity in their presidential pick, lauded the thrice married former House speaker, noting that God has offered him forgiveness for any wrongdoing.

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“I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country.  We’ve had our differences as campaigns will inevitably have.  Newt is not perfect, but who among us is? The fact is there is forgiveness for those who seek God.  And I believe in the power of redemption for it is a tenet of my Christian faith. I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement.  The courage to tell those Washington interests to take a hike if that’s what's in the best interest of our country,” Perry said.

Standing by Perry’s side were his wife, Anita, son, Griffin, close family friend and Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his wife.  Perry gave his wife a kiss on the lips, a rarity on the campaign trail, as he thanked her and his family for their support.

Perry’s communications director said Perry has not ruled out another run for the Texas governorship in 2014 nor is he ruling out a 2016 bid, noting that recent nominees have secured the Republican nomination on their second try.

Perry returns to Texas Thursday afternoon and will consider joining Gingrich on the trail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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