BREAKING NEWS -- Texas Governor Rick Perry announced at his 11:00 a.m. press conference today that he is dropping out of the Republican Presidential Nominee race and endorsing former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Perry, who had been in the single digits after poor debate performances early in the race has not been able to reach double digits despite his improved debating skills demonstrated over the last month.
This will also mean that there is only one Republican presidential candidate with military service - Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Military service could be an important factor in the upcoming primaries because both South Carolina and Florida have a large amount of active and retired military voters (Click on map below.)
Notwithstanding Perry's endorsement of Gingrich, Perry voters will likely be equally divided amongst the 'anti-Mitt' candidates based on ideology: Rick Santorum (social conservatives), Newt Gingrich (neoconservatives) and Ron Paul (fiscal conservatives and veterans).
This has not been a good week for Mitt Romney who was hammered on all sides during last Monday's debate, officially lost to Santorum in Iowa (which would be no surprise to Brevard Times readers), and now Perry gives his endorsement to Gingrich hours before the next debate just as Gingrich is leading Romney 32% to 29% in the most recent Insider Advantage South Carolina poll. Ron Paul is trailing in third place at 15%.
Santorum really needs to pull out a first or second place in South Carolina in order to go on to Florida because he would need a lot of money very quickly after January 21. Florida is a large and very expensive state to conduct a campaign. The only way Santorum would be able to raise such a large amount of money that quickly is with a 1st or 2nd place showing in South Carolina.