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Top Stories of 2012: Rick Perry Ends His Presidential Bid

Ben Philpott, KUT News

As Texas’ longest serving governor, Rick Perry isn’t accustomed to losing. But in January, the onetime front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination abandoned his bid and went back to Texas.

Perry entered the Republican fray in August of 2011, quickly becoming a top contender for the nomination.  But between a series of punishing debate performances – culminating with that famous “Oops” moment that made Perry Texas Monthly’s 2012 Bum Steer of the Year – Perry couldn’t capitalize on his early momentum.

Other issues continued to dog Perry, A campaign ad positing “there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school” was widely decried. And attacks by fellow GOP candidates over issues like a bill he signed giving in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants cost Perry conservative street cred.

Credit Ben Philpott, KUT News
That's a wrap: A Perry sign comes down in South Carolina after Perry bowed from his bid.

When the first primary votes were cast in Iowa, Perry came in fifth place. That night he announced he was returning to Texas to “reassess” his presidential bid. But the next day, Perry surprised campaign watchers by saying he was soldering on to the South Carolina primary.  

But polling looked poor for Perry, and so a few days before the vote, he dropped out of the race.

Perry kept a relatively low profile for a month or so, before reinserting himself back into Texas politics: attacking so-called “left-wing, pro-abortion radicals” at a speech in February and initiating a showdown with the feds over Texas’ removal of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program; getting behind plans for a $10,000 college degree and a college tuition freeze, indirectly generating rumors about UT Austin President Bill Powers’ job security in the process; and dropping hints about his political future along the way.

There were also attempts to address Perry’s performance on the trail, alternately fingering sleep apnea and pain from a back surgery for sleepless nights – and Perry’s lackluster debate performances.

"The gap between what was expected of Perry, and what he delivered” wrote Washington Post blogger Chris Cillizza, “coupled with incredibly high profile of the race in which he chose to flop makes Perry a clear choice for worst candidate of 2012.”

Back in Texas, what Perry told the Houston Chronicle regarding his back pain may apply as well to his presidential bid.  “It’s a no never mind now … I’m sleeping rather well.” 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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