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Rick Perry's unusual endorsement of open marriage Newt Gingrich: "Not perfect, but who among us is"

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Newt Gingrich Photo by Gage Skidmore
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Rick Perry, right, with son Griffin Perry Courtesy of The Washington Post
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After a flurry of earlier news reports removed any suspense, Rick Perry made it official on Thursday morning, announcing that he would drop out of the race for the Republican nomination for president.

Perry had no sooner uttered the words "suspending my campaign" before he threw his support to Newt Gingrich, endorsing the former Speaker of the House with an unusual choice of words.

"Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” said Perry. “There is forgiveness for those who seek God, and I believe in the power of redemption. I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the conservative movement.”

Perry's characterization of Gingrich seems to reference, in part, the former Speaker of the House's two divorces as well as the claims by his ex-wife, released on Thursday, that he asked her for an open marriage.

 "The ultimate objective is not only to replace Barack Obama but to replace him with a conservative leader who will bring about genuine change," Perry said. 

Perry also referenced former Texas governor Sam Houston, saying "I know when its time to make a strategic retreat."

Perry's withdrawal comes after recent pressure from conservative leaders and pundits to rally around a single conservative candidate to challenge Mitt Romney.

"The ultimate objective is not only to replace Barack Obama but to replace him with a conservative leader who will bring about genuine change," Perry said.

Though he led polls in South Carolina when he entered the Republican field in August 2011, Perry's support dropped significantly after poor debate performances. Before his announcement he was polling at around 5 percent of the vote in the state, running fifth out of five candidates.

The question remains whether Perry's support can help a surging Gingrich win South Carolina over Romney, who is currently leading in the polls. Conservative Rick Santorum and Libertarian Texas congressman Ron Paul are also still competing.

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