The evening didn’t start well for Gov. Rick Perry. He was in fith the moment the first results came out, and he stayed there throughout the night. But his Iowa campaign co-chairman, Bob Haus, remained optimistic early in the evening.
Audio: Ben Philpott's story for KUT News
“I think it’s important to remember this is the first step in a very long process," Haus told reporters. "I think regardless of what tonight’s results are, he’s laid down plans to go into New Hampshire do the debate, go into South Carolina and start campaigning and he’s going to keep fighting on.”
But by the time Perry came out to address the crowd, sixth-place finisher Michele Bachmann had already told her supporters she would continue in the race. And many thought Perry would say the same thing.
The first few minutes of his speech were aimed at his family, friends and the 350 members of the “Texas strike force” who came to knock on doors and make phone calls in the hours leading up to the caucuses.
“And I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s come and volunteered and worked and made the most incredible experience for myself,” the governor said.
He then launched into part of his Iowa stump speech, listing the reasons why he got into the race in the first place. That’s when he let people know it may be time to call it quits.
“But with the voters' decision tonight in Iowa," Perry said. "I’ve decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight’s caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race.”
The Perry campaign was hoping its two-and-a-half-week bus tour of Iowa would push him back into contention. But much of the evangelical vote that Perry needed to make a comeback instead went to Rick Santorum, who finished second by eight votes in Tuesday.
Perry has canceled trips to South Carolina and New Hampshire. A spokesman said they would know more about future of the campaign — if there is one — later in the week.