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Perry Drops Out, Endorses Newt

And then there were four.

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NORTH CHARLESTON, South Carolina—Texas Gov. Rick Perry ended his presidential run and endorsed his former opponent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

"I have come to the conclusion that this is no viable way forward for this campaign," Perry told a crowded room of reporters. He added that he is quitting "with pride, knowing I gave fully to a cause worthy of this country."

Perry added that he was endorsing a "conservative champion" in Newt Gingrich, taking a veiled shot at Mitt Romney.

"[The] objective is not just to defeat President Barack Obama — it’s to replace him with a conservative leader who will bring about real change," Perry said.

Perry admitted that Gingrich is "not perfect," a reference to recent stories about his failed second marriage. But "there is forgiveness for those who seek God. I believe in redemption," he said.

Gingrich was the first candidate to respond to Perry's decision, saying “I am humbled and honored to have the support of my friend Rick Perry. His selflessness is yet another demonstration of his deep sense of citizenship and commitment to the cause of limited government, historic American values and greater freedom for every American."

Gingrich "humbly" asked for the vote of Perry's supporters — which compose about 5 percent of the South Carolina Republican electorate according to recent poll.

Perry insisted that this was not the end of his career fighting for conservative principles. "In fact, I’ve just begun to fight," he said, before thanking reporters and returning to Texas.

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