Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry is interviewed… (Evan Vucci / Associated…)
Reporting from Manchester, N.H. — After a disappointing finish in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, Rick Perry is suspending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
Speaking to supporters in Iowa, the Texas governor said he would return home tonight rather than head to South Carolina, as he had planned.
"With the voters' decision tonight in Iowa, I've decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight's caucus, [and] determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race," he said.
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Though he stopped short of a final declaration, it was clear in his tone that Perry was eyeing an end to his campaign. Earlier in his remarks, he choked up as he read a letter from a volunteer, and called running for the presidency "the most incredible experience" of his life.
"This campaign has never been about me. It's about a movement of Americans who see our country -- that it's not on the track that most of us want it to be on," he said.
With most of the votes counted Perry appeared headed to a fifth-place finish, with just over 10% of the vote. The first nominating contest of the presidential race is likely to end in a virtual tie between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.
When Perry entered the race in late August, he did so as an immediate front-runner. His ability to raise big money, and his reputation as the longest-serving governor in Texas, made him a formidable challenger — at least on paper. But his performance failed to live up to that promise.
Unlike past elections, when in-person campaigning in the early states often helped voters sort through the field of candidates, a series of much-watched TV debates filled that role this time. The highly publicized encounters helped deflate Perry's prospects, after a series of faltering performances under the television lights.
Paul West contributed to this report from Des Moines, Iowa.