He started out on fire and quickly saw his campaign go to ashes. It is hard to imagine a candidate with strong potential fall to such a poor campaign and dismal debate performances.
Though his debate performances did improve as time went on, his campaign didn't and that is what finally did Governor Perry in. Rick Perry dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for President Thursday morning and formally endorsed Newt Gingrich in the race. He did so with a strong and gracious speech, endorsing Newt Gingrich with full support and mentioning that he "believes in the power of redemption" in all people, as his faith dictates. His wife, Anita and his son, Griffin were on stage with him.
Had Governor Perry been strong in the first debates and delivered more humble speeches like his speech Thursday morning, the race may have been quite different for him. But, it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.
I continue to believe that the campaign staff failed him miserably. Whomever told him it was a good idea to announce his candidacy on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll while he was in South Carolina for a bloggers convention started the bad decisions rolling. Iowans take themselves way too seriously to allow that to go without a fight. Perry did poorly in the Iowa caucuses as a result.
Whomever prepared Governor Perry for the first debates failed him. He has never been a very good debater but there is no excuse for a candidate at this level to not be better prepared. His campaign had plenty of money to hire the very best coaches. Unfortunately, they didn't do so until it was over for Perry. The first impressions that those in the country who don't live in Texas received of Governor Perry were not the kind that encourages much support.
Often Governor Perry gave the impression that he was running for Governor of the United States, not President of the United States. As President, he would have to work with both parties and that was not always clear in his speeches. Sometimes there was just too much bravado and we are a nation tired of bravado. We want strong, yet humble, leadership now.
Whomever allowed Governor Perry to announce he was re-thinking his campaign after his loss in Iowa and then twelve hours later tweet that he was all in and on the way to South Carolina failed him. No matter what the level of support a candidate thinks he or she has, skipping New Hampshire is not a good plan. It promotes ill will and makes the candidate look weaker.
I had the opportunity to go to Myrtle Beach for the weekend prior to the GOP debate there, as well as participate in an instant response exercise to the debate and I can tell you that no one I spoke to all weekend were proclaiming Perry as their candidate.
Governor Perry did the right thing by suspending his campaign Thursday before the voting Saturday in the South Carolina primary. He can not return to Texas with his head held high. He did his best, despite his blundering campaign staff and poor decisions. He left the campaign trail with dignity.