Update 11:26 a.m.: "I've come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for my campaign," Perry told a conference hall full of reporters in Charleston, S.C. in an event livestreamed by WCBD-TV. "Therefore, I am suspending my campaign and supporting Newt Gingrich for President of the United States," confirming what had been earlier reported below.
Original: Five months riding into the GOP nomination race on a wave of enthusiasm, Gov. Rick Perry will be moseying back to Texas, CNN reports, breaking the story. He is expected to hold a presser at 11 a.m. during which he drop out of the race on the eve of the South Carolinian primary and throw his weight behind fellow anti-Romney Newt Gingrich, acccording to Politico. Like Jon Huntsman who dropped out himself two days ago, Perry's flailing candidacy had fallen behind that of comedian Stephen Colbert in Public Policy Polling's numbers in South Carolina released yesterday. Perry decided to stay in the race after coming in fifth in the Iowa caucus (announced via one of his two Twitters, both of which are currently silent on the dropping out as of now.) Perry's dropping out comes after a week of calls from his once-strong supporters -- including South Caroline State Sen. Larry Grooms and Red State editor Erick Erickson -- to call it quits and "start his image rehab now by becoming a 'kingmaker' in the GOP race," reports The Daily Beast's Patricia Murphy. And in choosing to endorse Gingrich, he's appeasing conservative leaders wishing to stall Mitt Romney, as The Wall Street Journal reports. "Some conservative leaders, aiming to stop the momentum of Mitt Romney, had urged Mr. Perry to bow out and to help rally conservative voters around another candidate—Newt Gingrich or former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum."
Update 10:19 a.m.: Politico reports that it wasn't just his backers, but the Gingrich team itself, that has been lobbying Perry quit the race before the South Carolina primary to give a boost to Newt. 'Gingrich had been assiduously lobbying Perry officials in recent days," Politico writes. "The former House speaker has repeatedly texted Perry manager Joe Allbaugh." CNN reports that both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have "reached out to Perry asking for his backing in the race for the GOP presidential nomination" without confirming (as Politico has) that Perry had decided to back Gingrich.
Update 10:34 a.m.: Maybe Herman Cain will be at Perry's speech? Dave Weigel tweets the following photo of Cain's bus parked near Perry's presser.
Update 10:50 a.m.: Now that reporters have had time to talk to Perry boosters about the news, we have a batch of quotes on just how poorly the Perry campaign went and how inevitable its end was.
From The Washington Post: "[The drop out] was a foregone conclusion to what has been quite possibly the worst-run presidential campaign of our lifetimes," said one unnamed Perry fundraiser.
From ABC News: "It’s over. It’s long over. Sometimes things are finished before they’re over. It’s embarrassing to come out of the gate and get shot down, but it happens," said another fundraiser.
From The Wall Street Journal: "I know we've been close to the end, but we've been reticent to admit that," said one unnamed Perry adviser.