Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Friday that he’s suspending his presidential campaign, becoming the first casualty in a 17-person Republican presidential field.
Perry announced the news Friday at an event in St. Louis, Missouri.
“I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States,” he said Friday at an event in St. Louis, according to prepared remarks sent out by his campaign.
The former governor’s campaign has struggled in recent weeks after he failed to qualify for the Fox News main-stage debate in early August.
Perry also failed to qualify for the second main-stage Republican debate, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, next week.
Perry was an early front-runner for the 2012 Republican nomination, but dropped out of the race after a famous stumble at an early presidential debate.
As the National Journal notes, many voters who supported and donated to the governor in 2012 backed other candidates. US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, has lapped Perry in fundraising from voters who donated to Perry’s 2012 run.
A CNN poll released Thursday showed Perry at his lowest point in the race, capturing less than 1% of support from likely Republican primary voters.
Perry said last month that he’d be unable to pay staff. The principal outside group supporting him – which was better funded – said it would be potentially taking on some of the duties traditionally left to campaigns, such as advertising.
Many observers smelled blood in the water, as key members of the former governor’s staff began defecting to other campaigns.
Following his failure to qualify for the first main-stage debate, strategists suggested that Perry could focus his efforts on winning Iowa, where his skills as a retail politician could help attract voters and where he was well-known from his previous run.
- Scott Olson
In his concession speech, Perry also took the opportunity to slam front-runner Donald Trump, criticizing Trump’s inflammatory statements about Mexican immigrants.
“Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ,” Perry said. “We can enforce our laws and our borders, and we can love all who live within our borders, without betraying our values.”
This didn’t seem to bother Trump, who quickly wished Perry well:
.@GovernorPerry is a terrific guy and I wish him well- I know he will have a great future!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2015
Following the announcement that Perry would drop out, Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also offered praise for the Texas governor:
.@GovernorPerry is a great friend, and has the best record of any Governor anywhere, anytime.
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) September 11, 2015