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Rick Perry drops out of presidential race

Texas governor campaigned against gay equality

Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday (19 January) and has thrown his support behind Newt Gingrich.

Perry, who finished near or at the bottom of the field in the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary earlier this month, was polling poorly leading up to Saturday's primary in South Carolina.

'I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in the 2012 campaign,' Perry said at a press conference in North Charleston, South Carolina. 'I know when it's time to make a strategic retreat.'

Perry had been vocal in his opposition to gay marriage and gays serving in the military. A television ad he put out in early December was particularly upsetting to many LGBT activists. In it he said: 'You have to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.'

But it is Perry's gaffes in nationally-televised debates and other campaign flubs that appeared to be most responsible for his going from being a well-funded front-runner to the back of the pack.

Perry may have been only garnering single-digit support, according to polls, but his departure is thought to be most beneficial to Gingrich who is seeking to gain support from socially conservative voters.

Gingrich has been closing in on front-runner Mitt Romney in the latest South Carolina polls and in a statement said he was 'humbled and honored' to have Perry's support. He called the Texas governor 'a leader for the cause of conservatism.'

Below is Perry's most anti-gay television ad that aired in December:

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