CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Peter Hamby, who is to South Carolina political scoops what Wagner was to weird chords, has the news:
Rick Perry is telling supporters that he will drop his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday, two sources familiar with the plans told CNN.
Yesterday, I noticed that Perry had scrapped most of a campaign schedule in the Piedmont area, skipping out on events in the Greenville, limiting himself to one town walk-around and a bored but competent appearance at the Pro-Life/Personhood forum. When I asked Perry adviser Katon Dawson why the events had been canceled, he only said that they were "tentative" to begin with. (I'll write more about what turned out to be Perry's Last Stand later today.)
Maggie Haberman's sources tell her that Perry endorse Newt Gingrich on his way out the door. But Perry's exit was a de facto Gingrich endorsement anyway. His strength, according to Dawson, was going to come from the Piedmont and from parts of the state with big veteran communities. With Perry out, there's 5 percent or so of the electorate that 1) are dead-set against Mitt Romney and 2) want to cast some kind of anti-establishment vote (as hard as that is to define), and there's Gingrich, puffed up from Sarah Palin's endorsement, ready to reel 'em in.