Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, saying there was no path for him to go forward with his campaign in the 2012 election.
Perry announced his decision at a news conference in South Carolina, two days before the state's primary.
"As I have contemplated the future of this campaign, I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path for me in this 2012 campaign," Perry said. "Therefore, today, I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States of America."
Gingrich welcomed the endorsement.
"I was very honored and very humbled to have Gov. Perry speak so well about endorsing me just a few minutes ago as he withdrew from the campaign," Gingrich said.
While conceding defeat in the GOP primary, Perry hinted that he may not be done pursuing higher office and referred to his departure from the race only as a retreat.
"As a Texan, I've never shied away from a fight particularly when I considered the cause to be righteous. But as someone who has always admired a great, if not the greatest, Texas governor, Sam Houston, I know when it's time to make a strategic retreat," Perry said. "This I know, I'm not done fighting for the cause of conservatism. As a matter of fact, I've just begun to fight."
The news did not bother fellow Texan Rep. Ron Paul, one of the four remaining major candidates seeking the GOP nod for president.
"Well, I think there's more benefits than negatives," Paul said. "I don't see too much downside, because I don't think he had a large block."
Perry was previously scheduled to take part in a debate Thursday night in South Carolina. Instead, he returned to Texas.
"I will leave the trial, return home to Texas, wind down my 2012 campaign and I will do so with pride knowing I gave fully of myself of a cause worthy of this country," Perry said.
After poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Perry was hoping for a strong finish in South Carolina's primary, but recent polls suggested that wasn't in the cards. He lagged far, far behind other major candidates including Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul.
According to a Time/CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday, Perry only had 6 percent of the South Carolina vote. The numbers were even worse for Perry in Florida -- where he had the support of a mere 2 percent, according to the poll.
NBC 5's Omar Villafranca contributed to this report.
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