Texas Governor Rick Perry has dropped out of the race for the Republican U.S. presidential nomination.
Speaking at a news conference in South Carolina on January 19, Perry told journalists that he was now going to give his backing to rival candidate Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives.
"Today I am suspending my campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich for president of the United States," he said. "I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country."
Perry led polls of the Republican Party candidates after he joined the race in August, but committed a series of gaffes on the campaign trail and in debates.
Perry finished in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses on January 3 and in sixth place in the New Hampshire primary on January 10.
In a related development, Republican officials have said Rick Santorum may have finished ahead of frontrunner candidate Mitt Romney in the Iowa caucuses. Romney was originally shown to have won the vote two weeks ago.
A certified vote count showed Santorum 34 votes ahead of Romney. The precise final tally is unknown, as the Iowa Republican Party says results from eight precincts from the January 3 vote were missing.
compiled from agency reports