Rick Perry's Exit Is No Surprise

Rick PerryRick Perry is out of the race, and after speaking with him on Monday in South Carolina, I'm not surprised.

During our interview, he made several oblique references to quitting -- the most notable was when he stated that if he had to walk away "from all this," as long as he had his wife by his side, he'd be okay.

Unlike Rick Santorum, who during his Monday chat with us seemed full of excitement and momentum, Perry seemed tired and subdued. Despite this, he managed to charm the moms in our audience -- but his exhausting campaign trail schedule and dismal numbers in the polls clearly had taken a toll on him.

What led to Perry's astonishing plummet from first to worst? I have a few ideas ...

  • What stood out to me during our interview is that in person, Rick Perry's style and demeanor are simply not presidential. He's definitely personable, folksy, and 'real.' But unlike the other candidates, he struggles quite a bit to find the words he's looking for, and that has led to some well-publicized foibles, most notably his big 'oops' moment during a GOP debate.

  • From a political aspect, his campaign has been labeled as the most mismanaged presidential campaign in recent history. Internally, a struggle was taking place between longtime gubernatorial advisers and new consultants hired on for the presidential race. Externally, the television ads he ran in December didn't help matters -- they stirred up quite a bit of hostility from bloggers and reporters like Slate's Amanda Marcotte, who had this to say:

In a short 30 seconds, Perry takes a swipe at gay soldiers, pretends that he's being oppressed and maligned for being a Christian, implies that Obama is an atheist (or possibly Muslim) out to destroy religion (by which he clearly means Christianity), and claims that kids are suffering from being barred from praying or celebrating Christmas in school, which is not only false but also bewildering.

  • Things were getting awkward for Rick Perry in South Carolina. As in, no-one's-showing-up-at-his-campaign-events awkward. A recent Washington Post article written about South Carolinians' response to Perry had me cringing for him.

  • By dropping out now, he'll avoid both an embarrassing last-place finish in South Carolina AND a debate -- his weak spot -- set to take place tonight. He actually had his best debate ever on Monday night and I doubt he would have topped it tonight -- why not go out on a high note?

  • With Perry's poor showing, from a GOP perspective, it was starting to seem downright selfish for him to stay in the race. If there's going to be a 'conservative alternative' to Mitt Romney, he needs the votes that Rick Perry has been taking away. No doubt, this is exactly why Newt Gingrich is getting his endorsement. Newt has the best shot right now at taking down Mitt, although it'll be interesting to see whether his ex-wife Marianne's interview tonight with ABC News will sway voters' opinions of the former Speaker.

What do you think about Rick Perry's decision to pull out of the presidential race?


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