Perry Exits Presidential Race

Perry Exits Presidential Race
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Rick Perry became the first GOP candidate to leave the presidential race, announcing Friday evening in a speech to the Eagle Forum that he would be suspending his campaign. 

"We have a tremendous field – the best in a generation – so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, and as long as we listen to the grassroots, the cause of conservatism will be too," Perry said.

In his second bid for the presidency, the former Texas governor struggled to gain traction in the polls and twice failed to make the cut for prime-time debates. Last month, his campaign announced it had run out of financial resources to pay its staff, and that those remaining would do so on a volunteer basis. Perry's better financed super PAC stepped in to take over campaign duties, raising questions about whether these empowered outside groups could sustain failing campaigns. The governor's exit Friday signaled that super PACs aren’t necessarily saviors.

Perry sought to gain positive attention by criticizing Donald Trump over controversial comments about Latino voters and other issues. In a speech in Washington, Perry called the now-frontrunner a "cancer on conservatism." But the Texan's efforts backfired. Trump continued to gain ground while Perry stalled, and the New York real estate mogul seemed to take delight in spearing the Texan. 

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While parting ways with his presidential campaign, however, Perry enjoyed one last swipe at Trump, though he didn't call him out by name.

"Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ," Perry said. "It is time to elevate our debate from divisive name-calling, from sound bites without solutions, and start discussing how we will make the country better for all if a conservative is elected president."

He later added: "The conservative movement has always been about principles, not personalities. Our nominee should embody those principles. He – or she – must make the case for the cause of conservatism more than the cause of their own celebrity."

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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