Perry Stays in Republican Race, Heading to South Carolina

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 4, 2012   |   1:53PM   |   Washington, DC

After finishing in fifth in the Iowa caucus vote Tuesday night, Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he is staying in the Republican race to replace pro-abortion President Barack Obama and heading to South Carolina.

Perry finished behind former Speaker Newt Gingrich with the support of 10 percent of Iowa voters and ahead of Rep. Michele Bachmann, who dropped out early Wednesday after coming in sixth place with the backing of only five percent of voters in the state of her birthplace.

But today, Perry sent a message on Twitter saying he is headed to South Carolina to continue his campaign — despite saying Tuesday night he would return to Texas “to determine whether there is a path forward” to win the nomination.

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State…Here we come South Carolina!!!” he said, including a picture of himself taking an early morning jog.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner told Politico he didn’t know the meaning of the Tweet.

“I’m checking on it,” he said, adding that Perry himself controls the Twitter account.

Later, Perry campaign manager Joe Allbaugh confirmed Perry is remaining in the race.

“Staying,” Allbaugh wrote in an email.

Late this afternoon, Perry talked with the Austin American newspaper about his decision.

“I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me,” an upbeat Perry said a couple of hours later as he left his hotel in West Des Moines. He later added, “This was not a difficult decision.”

Perry said he will participate in a pair of debates in New Hampshire this weekend.

“I’m going to delineate and characterize the differences in the candidates, and there are huge differences,” Perry said Wednesday. “These guys are all insiders that have spent years and years in Washington, D.C. They’re the reason that this country is broken.”

According to an AP report on his staying in, “Perry’s national political director told campaign workers early Wednesday that the governor was reviewing his organizational and financial resources, and assessing the political landscape in South Carolina and beyond.”

The way forward will be tough for Perry because he is at the back of the pack in New Hampshire, which votes next Tuesday, and the South Carolina race, the site of a potential comeback, isn’t until January 21. Whether Perry can afford to wait a couple of weeks for potential good news and whether the storm of another poor finish remains to be seen.

“With the voters’ decision tonight in Iowa, I decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race,” Perry said Tuesday night.

Last week, Perry announced that he had a change of heart on abortion in cases of rape or incest — now opposing abortion in such rare cases. Perry said his change of heart came after meeting with Rebecca Kiessling, a pro-life attorney who was born after her birthmother was a victim of sexual assault.

“This is something that is relatively new and it goes back to a meeting with Rebecca Kiessling, who was at the The Gift of Life,” Perry said about meeting her at a recent showing of the new movie. “We had a fairly lengthy and heartfelt conversation about how she was conceived in rape. Looking in her eyes, I couldn’t come up with an answer to defend exceptions for rape and incest.”

“Over the course of the last few weeks, the Christmas holiday, reflecting on that – I would suggest that my pro-life position has been rather strong as the Governor of Texas. But she made a statement to me that was really strong and pierced my heart. As I signed that document, I will suggest to you that all I can tell you is God was working on my heart,” he said.

“You’re seeing a transformation,” Perry said of his thinking on abortion and called his conversation with Kiessling “powerful.”