(Jonathan Gibby / Getty Images )
Reporting from Manchester, N.H., and Des Moines —
So, after giving every indication that he was pulling up stakes, why did Texas Gov. Rick Perry decide to stay in the presidential race after all?
According to multiple sources in the governor's campaign, the post-Iowa plan was always to continue if he finished third. If he was fourth, most advisors in the campaign were in favor of continuing. But if he was fifth, the plan was to reassess, which to some insiders meant he'd probably quit.
Mark Miner, a Perry spokesman, seemed to imply as much when asked Monday, in Sioux City, Iowa, what would happen if Perry finished next-to-last. In that event, he said, “You gotta make a call.”
FULL RESULTS: Iowa GOP caucuses
When Perry said late caucus night that he was going to reassess, most people in politics -- including some in his own camp -- took that to mean he would be quitting on his own terms.
But in this case, it actually meant reassess.
What actually happened remains unanswered. There has always been a group of Texans around him who just can’t believe that he could ever lose. He often credits his wife with convincing him to run, and she presumably had a voice in the decision.
The Austin American-Statesman reported the following scene outside Perry's hotel in West Des Moines on Wednesday morning:
Texas First Lady Anita Perry emerged from the hotel and hugged Bob Haus, Perry’s Iowa campaign chairman, telling him, “Never quit.” Walking past reporters, Anita Perry said, “I love grits."
The paper also reported that Perry would participate in this weekend's back-to-back TV debates in New Hampshire.
There was an added reason to stay in: Perry still has some money in the bank, campaign sources said. With no signs of a great migration of conservatives toward Romney, there was little reason not to give Perry two more weeks in South Carolina to see if his newly tailored message aimed squarely at social conservatives can find some resonance.