Rick Perry, Victim of the "Drive-By Shooting from the Liberal Press"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 19 2012 1:54 PM

Rick Perry, Victim of the "Drive-By Shooting from the Liberal Press"

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 19: Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry gives a thumbs up as his wife Antia looks on at Hyatt Place January 19, 2012 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Perry, who placed fifth in Iowa and New Hampshire, announced his withdrawal from the presidential race and endorsed former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Everybody loves a wake. Minutes after the Perry campaign announced an event at a Hyatt off the highway here, reporters rushed in, earning the right to stand in line and maybe get into the room he'd rented. The one-time frontrunner for the Republican nomination would speak in a tiny space, overstuffed and overheated, decorated by two flags that had been delicately placed by aides.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

I tried to plug in my computer. "Not there!" said an overtaxed Perry aide, working the mult box for cameras. "I lose that, and everything goes down." I found a space close by, occasionally gritting my teeth as he warned other reporters not to mess up a delicate set-up, and as he talked down late arrivers who learned that they wouldn't have good sound.


Perry was only a few minutes late, flanked by his son Griffin and his wife Anita. He kept his remarks to 11 minutes, and got to the point quickly: He was out, endorsing Newt Gingrich.

"I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country," he said. "We have had our differences, which campaigns inevitably bring out. And Newt is not perfect, but who among us is? The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God and I believe in the power of redemption, for it is a central tenet of my own Christian faith."

This wasn't just an endorsement -- it was a suit of armor, if Newt wanted it. But Perry's aides, hanging around to feed the vultures, wouldn't get specific about what Perry would do. He was flying back to Texas for the weekend. When I asked Perry's campaign manager Rob Johnson if, say, we'd see Perry spinning for Gingrich after tonight's debate, he smiled and said "show up."

Ah, but Perry and debates -- there's an automatic wince when those words appear close together. Katon Dawson, the former South Carolina GOP chairman who walked the state with Perry, told me that future campaigns would learn to "say yes and say no" to debates. "We were victims of a drive-by shooting by the liberal press," he said.

Over to Dawson's side, campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan stood up and took every question that was left. When did Perry make up his mind? "Between 3 and 4 p.m. yesterday." When did he talk to Gingrich? "This morning." And was money a reason for the exit? Oh, yes. "We've spent the bulk of our funds. South Carolina really was a final flag in the ground."

At the same time, Dawson was suggesting that Perry's move would boost Gingrich's fundraising. "The governor raised $18 million in forty days!" he reminded me. We'd almost forgotten: Perry was the candidate who'd command big conservative, Texas fundraisers and turn their guns on Mitt Romney. Those fundraisers had wasted their ammo. And now they were free.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.