Former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, his campaign effectively out of money, withdrew from the presidential race Friday afternoon, becoming the first Republican to quit the 2016 contest.
“We have a tremendous field of candidates — probably the greatest group of men and women,” Mr. Perry said in a speech in St. Louis to the conservative Eagle Forum, alluding to the 16 Republican candidates left. “I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, as long as we listen to the grassroots, listen to the cause of conservatism. If we do that, then our party will be in good hands.
“I give you this news with no regrets,” he continued. “It has been a privilege for me, it has been an honor to travel this country, to speak with the American people about their hopes and their dreams, to see a sense of optimism being prevalent despite this season of cynical politics.”
Mr. Perry was making his second consecutive run for the presidency but it failed to catch fire, and in recent weeks his small cadre of advisers had been discussing whether he should drop out of the race. They decided he had no choice because of cash-flow issues, advisers said. He had already stopped paying staff and was uncertain whether he would even have the money to pay the state filing fees required in the coming months to be on the ballot next year, they said. (Mr. Perry had yet to file for the South Carolina primary, where the deadline for ballot access is Sept. 30 and the state Republican Party requires a $40,000 fee.)
“It takes patience, performance and money, and we had two out of the three,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican strategist and adviser to Mr. Perry.
Mr. Perry’s decision to withdraw likely means the end of a political career that was remarkable in Texas but lackluster beyond his state’s borders. He was governor for over 14 years, a record there. But his White House bid in 2012, while initially promising, fizzled after a series of missteps, most memorably when he said “Oops” on a debate stage after failing to recall the names of the Cabinet departments he would eliminate as president. And despite years of policy tutorials leading up to this race, he was unable to gain much traction among Republican voters looking for new blood.
“People want to see the new candidates, and we’re in a cable news-reality TV primary,” Mr. Barbour said. “It’s a weird dynamic.”
Mr. Perry’s decision to suspend his campaign roiled the Texas donor world on Friday, setting off a race to win the allegiance of Mr. Perry’s wealthiest supporters, who poured more than $17 million into his super PAC even while his campaign struggled to raise traditional contributions.
“It will be a scramble for the people who are big Rick supporters,” said Chart Westcott, a Texas financier who has helped raise money for a super PAC supporting Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin. “But who knows what their appetite is.”
The super PACs backing Mr. Perry, collectively known as Freedom and Opportunity, had a raised more than $17 million as of earlier this summer, mostly from a handful of wealthy Texas families, dwarfing the amount raised by his campaign, which was limited by law to raising only $2,700 from each donor. Mr. Perry’s advisers were uncertain what would happen with the super PAC money, but noted that much of it came from a pair of Dallas executives, Kelcy Warren and Darwin Deason, and that they would be consulted.
Read more: NY Times