Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced Thursday he is dropping out of the Republican presidential race and is endorsing the candidacy of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Perrys announcement, which he called a "strategic retreat," comes two days before Saturday's crucial South Carolina primary, where polls show a close race between Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign," Perry told followers in South Carolina.
In endorsing his formal rival, he said, "I believe that Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country. We have had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have. Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?"
The four remaining GOP candidates face off in a debate on CNN tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
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