SMELL YA LATER: Perry Ends Campaign, Backhandedly Endorses Golem Gingrich

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[Illustrations by ALEX FINE]

NEW YORK TIMES: Gov. Rick Perry of Texas dropped out of the Republican presidential race here on Thursday and announced his endorsement for the candidacy of Newt Gingrich, a man he called a “conservative visionary.” “I’ve never believed that the cause of conservatism is embodied by one individual,” Mr. Perry said at a news conference here. “Our party and our conservative philosophy transcends any one individual.” Mr. Perry, who opened his bid for the Republican presidential nomination five months ago here in South Carolina, conceded that “there is no viable path forward for me.” He urged Republicans to support Mr. Gingrich, who he conceded was not a perfect candidate, but was the best conservative alternative in the race. “Newt is not perfect, but who among us is,” Mr. Perry said. “The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God. And I believe in the power of redemption, for it is a central tenet of my Christian faith.” MORE

PHAWKER: Forgiveness for fat, rich, sleazy, racist white guys running for president? Amen. Forgiveness for poor black and brown people on death row? Not so much. Ah, the Lord does work in mysteriously hypocritical ways.

RELATED: Number of people executed by Rick Perry? 235

RELATED: Number of people on death row exonerated by DNA evidence? 41

RELATED: Dredging up a past that Newt Gingrich has worked hard to bury, the GOP presidential candidate’s second ex-wife says Gingrich asked for an “open marriage” in which he could have both a wife and a mistress. In an interview with ABC News’ ”Nightline” scheduled to air Thursday night, Marianne Gingrich said she refused to go along with the idea that she share her husband with Callista Bisek, who would later become his third wife. The explosive interview was airing just two days before the presidential primary in South Carolina, a state with a strong Christian conservative bent, and as Gingrich tries to present himself as the strongest alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney. MORE

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