Rick Perry became the first candidate to drop out of the 2016 presidential race as of Friday, Sept. 11. The former Texas governor stated, “We have a tremendous field – the best in a generation – so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, and as long as we listen to the grassroots, the cause of conservatism will be too.”
This is not the first time Perry has tried to achieve the Republican presidential nomination. According to Politico, he went into the 2012 race as a front-runner, but his campaign quickly degraded after numerous errors on the part of the candidate. According to NPR, one of the most famous errors was during a Florida primary debate when Perry stated that he wanted to abolish three federal agencies. He was able to name Commerce and Education, but he was unable to name the third agency he wanted gone. He ended the awkward moment by saying, “Sorry. Oops.”
As a result, Perry studied up on policy issues that could arise in the 2016 race. Despite this studying, Perry has consistently stayed at the bottom of the polls. In the last Iowa Caucus poll, the RealClearPolitics average for the Texas politician had him at 0.7 percentage points. This average seems all the more devastating when combined with the fact that Perry led the GOP back in 2011 at 29 percent of the popular vote, compared to the eventual nominee Mitt Romney’s 17 percent. With such poor polling numbers, Perry did not make it into the primary debate hosted in Cleveland by Fox News, nor would he have been able to attend yesterday’s primary debate hosted by CNN.
According to Politico, Perry’s campaign has been falling apart since he stopped paying his staffers in early summer 2015. This does not mean, however, that he does not have financial support. Perry had around 80 donors, as of Feb. 2015, ranging in occupations from business tycoons to owners of sports teams, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Despite this support, Perry’s campaign did start to run out of money. During the last two weeks of his campaign, Perry’s team was in meetings trying to figure out options for future steps, according to NPR. Additionally, some of the offices in the early primary states closed down.
Perry’s campaign manager, Jeff Miller, stated, “At the end of the day, it’s not the national poll numbers that will dictate who our nominee is. It’s who can perform well in these early states.” In addition to those early states, primary debates make a large impact on the state of a presidential candidacy.
The former governor barely lost out, to Ohio Governor John Kasich, while participating in the primetime GOP primary debate held by Fox News on Aug. 6, 2015, according to The New York Times. Instead of being able to debate among candidates leading in the polls, Perry instead had to debate among those other candidates who did not qualify at 5 p.m. EST.
In this debate, many analysts expected Perry to dominate, especially since he is not new to the political arena and his polling numbers indicated that he could have been a top tier candidate. Instead, many news outlets reported that the winner of the 5 p.m. debate was Carly Fiorina, a former business executive, as reported by The Washington Post.
With the highly populated and competitive Republican presidential field, Rick Perry is just the first candidate to drop out. No matter his reasoning, his leaving makes the field for the Republican nomination that much more competitive.
Editor’s Note: Information from Politico, RealClearPolitics, The Dallas Morning News, NPR, The New York Times and The Washington Post.