UPDATE: At a press conference on the U.S.S. Yorktown Tuesday morning, Sen. Larry Grooms retracted his endorsement of Rick Perry and endorsed Rick Santorum. "Let's face it," Grooms said. "It's time for the conservatives of South Carolina to rally around our best choice to have a true conservative as president of the United States." Read more here.---
State Sen. Larry Grooms is calling on Rick Perry, the candidate he endorsed for the GOP presidential nomination, to call off his campaign.
Indeed, things look grim for the Texas governor, who has campaigned as a hawkish social conservative since announcing his bid for the presidency at the RedState Gathering in Charleston last August. Nationally, a Washington Times poll puts Mitt Romney in the lead with 32 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, tied at 17 percent. Ron Paul took 15 percent in the national poll, followed by Perry with 3 percent.
South Carolina voters aren't showing a lot of enthusiasm for Perry, either. The latest NewsMax poll, released Sunday, shows Palmetto State Republicans giving the nod to Romney:
• Romney: 32 percent
• Gingrich: 21 percent
• Paul: 14 percent
• Santorum: 13 percent
• Huntsman: 6 percent
• Perry: 5 percent
• Other: 2 percent
• Undecided/ No opinion: 7 percent
Sen. Grooms had this to say in a press release Monday afternoon:
With only days to go before the South Carolina Primary, it is apparent that Gov. Perry cannot win and has no viable strategy in moving forward. Remaining in the race at this point only serves to steer votes away from viable candidates.
The history of our primary teaches us that when conservatives split, big government wins. Now is the time for us to reevaluate our choices and coalesce around a single candidate.
Grooms said Mike Huckabee could have won the Republican nomination in 2008 if Grooms' chosen candidate, Fred Thompson, had dropped out before the S.C. primary. “Thompson’s candidacy split off enough conservatives to ensure a McCain victory," Grooms said. "I do not want to see history repeat itself." McCain, for his part, has endorsed Romney, burying the hatchet with his former rival.
Jon Huntsman narrowed the field of frontrunners to five by dropping out Monday and endorsing Romney. If Perry drops out, it seems unlikely that he would throw his weight behind Romney as the two have been sparring publicly about Romney's tenure at financial services company Bain Capital and his refusal to publish his federal tax returns.