Rick Perry is officially out of the 2016 presidential race. On Friday evening, at a meeting of the conservative interest group Eagle Forum in St. Louis, Miss., Perry announced that he would be leaving the GOP battlefield, telling audience members in his prepared remarks that he was "suspending" his run for the White House and not-so-subtly criticizing the campaign of one of the Party's leading candidates. Within minutes of the announcement, the media was buzzing with speculations as to why Perry had decided to drop out of the 2016 race.
ABC News pointed to Perry's recent polling numbers as a potential harbinger for his departure, citing his single-digit standing, which was reported as low as 1 percent in the vitally important Iowa caucuses last month, as the main reason. Contributing to his slowly crumbling campaign, Perry was also slated to appear once more at the lower tier GOP forum on Wednesday next week, rather than with his higher polling fellow candidates, who would be battling it out in the traditional GOP debate later in the evening.
The departure isn't wholly unexpected, however. Just a few weeks ago in August, political insiders and Iowa Republican strategists predicted that Perry would be the first of the GOP pack to leave the race, given his lackluster showings and rapidly dwindling finances.
"No money and cannot gain traction, even though he has the best record and a superb message," one Republican insider told Politico.
"When you’ve suspended all staff pay, the writing is on the wall," said another.
For his part, Perry had insisted as recently as last week that he would be sticking around, telling Fox News' Gretchen Carlson that Republican rival Donald Trump had been out of line in asserting otherwise.
"The bottom line is I'm still here, I'm still working, and we need to be talking about solutions and not just rhetoric out there," Perry told Carlson on Sept. 3. Earlier that day, at a press conference Trump had claimed that Perry was "getting out of the race" after attacking Trump on his comments about Mexican immigrants.
"He was at 4 or 5 percent, now he's getting out of the race, he was at zero," Trump told reporters.
On Friday this week, however, Trump seemed to take a less aggressive tone.
".@GovernorPerry is a terrific guy and I wish him well," Trump wrote in a statement on Twitter. "I know he will have a great future!"
On Aug. 10, The Washington Post reported that Perry had stopped paying all of his campaign staffers due to dried-up funding, and although several of the former Texas governor's PACs had announced they would step in to help cover the sudden shortfall, it did nothing to quell voters' fears.
"Nobody talked about money being a problem," one former Perry staffer told The Post.
A Public Policy Poll released on Wednesday showed that Perry was barely clinging to his bid at just 1 percent of the prospective vote; Rival Trump, in comparison, had secured a whopping 37 percent.
"Perry’s just not getting the second look from voters he hoped for," one New Hampshire GOP Caucus member told Politico. "Best retail politician I have ever seen, yet not able to pick up interest against a strong field," said another.
On Friday, Perry told Eagle Forum members that, despite his disappointment, he was leaving the GOP race in good hands.
"We have a tremendous field — the best in a generation — so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, and as long as we listen to the grassroots, the cause of conservatism will be too," he said.