WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday night that he will return to Texas to reassess his campaign for president after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
"With the voters decision tonight in Iowa, I have decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight's caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race," Perry told about 150 supporters, including many Texans who had driven north to help give his campaign a final push.
Perry received only 10 percent of the vote from caucus-goers, an underwhelming finish after polls in the lead-up to the vote showed his support in the low- to mid-teens. Some polls had him finishing in fourth place ahead of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was ultimately able to secure the fourth-place spot with 13 percent of the vote.
"With a little prayer and reflection, I'm going to decide the best path forward, but I want to tell you there has been no greater joy in my life than to be able to share with the people of Iowa and this country that there is a model to take this country forward, and it is in the great state of Texas," Perry said.
Although Perry did not formally end his campaign, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's success in the caucuses - a candidate with whom he was competing for the state's influential social conservatives - may mean there is no viable path forward for him. Perry had spent millions of dollars on ads in Iowa touting his conservative credentials and his faith, and he had just wrapped up a two-week bus tour of the state that took him to over 40 cities.
He had projected confidence just a few hours earlier. "It's still early in the evening. There is still a lot of hope and excitement here at the Sheraton Hotel," he told Fox News.
The campaign cancelled three packed days of events in South Carolina, where Perry was scheduled to campaign after the caucuses, effectively bypassing the New Hampshire primary. He is still scheduled to participate in two debates in New Hampshire on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Spokesman Ray Sullivan said that the campaign would make no further announcements about the future until Thursday at the earliest.
Sullivan said the decision to return to Texas was made by the governor, his family, and a group of advisors that included himself and strategist Joe Allbaugh, who was brought onto the campaign in October. Despite reports of internal staff divisions, Sullivan said that there has not been any discussion about firing staff members. The campaign will decide whether there is a viable path forward for Perry in South Carolina's Jan. 21 primary.