After the governor announced the end of his campaign, journalists and pundits were waiting in the wings with their Perry obits. Slate’s David Weigel was on hand in the “tiny, overstuffed and overheated” room at the Hyatt where the Perry campaign ended. Weigel wrote that Perry’s press aides—who hung around after the speech to “feed the vultures”—were cagey about the governor’s next move:
When I asked Perry’s campaign manager Rob Johnson if, say, we’d see Perry spinning for Gingrich after tonight’s debate, he smiled and said ‘show up.’
Katon Dawson, who pounded the pavement in South Carolina with Perry, found a bogeyman in the liberal press. “We were victims of a drive-by shooting by the liberal press,” he told Weigel.
Perry’s aides, who did say the governor would return to Texas over the weekend, indicated that Perry has no intention of leaving his current job. “As you know we don’t have term limits in Texas,” Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told reporters in a post-speech presser, the Texas Tribune ’s Jay Root tweeted, along with the hashtag #perry2014.
Democratic consultant Paul Begala shed no tears over Perry’s exit from the race. “Adios, mofo,” he wrote in the Daily Beast :
The pride of Texas A&M can now slink back home, defeated and disgraced, where he can try to explain to the lobbyists and billionaires who funded his campaign how he squandered a huge fortune and blew a big lead. … He earned the support of just 14,323 voters—a good turnout for a Texas high-school football game, but piss poor for a presidential campaign rolling in dough.
(According to current fundraising totals, which will rise, Perry spent at least $1,477 per vote.)
The American Prospect ’s Abby Rapoport wondered what Perry’s future in Texas will look like:
Will Perry come back the humbled bully, eager to work to leave Texas in a better fiscal state? Or will he, as some opponents fear, come down hard on his enemies, and reassert what power he still has?
She concludes that Perry may try to make amends and redefine himself to put some distance between him and his blusters on the campaign trail “So it seems to me that Texas might find itself with a Rick Perry who’s less eager to exact vengeance,” she writes.
Jim Hightower, Perry’s predecessor as agriculture commissioner, told the Los Angeles Times ’ Molly Hennessy-Fiske Perry had “embarrassed us enough. … Finally someone clobbered him on the head with a two-by-four and said, ‘It’s over’. It was possible Stephen Colbert was going to outdo him.”
Snark abounded on Twitter after the announcement. Paula Poundstone pointed out some internal contradiction’s in Perry’s speech on Twitter:
Rick Perry said, ‘What we need in Washington is a place that is more humble,’ and then he endorsed Newt Gingrich. Thank you, Tweedle-Dee.
Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings quipped “Rick Perry currently sitting in a large antler-decorated room on some estate named for a racial slur, getting blackout drunk.”
Others seemed eager to rub some balm on Perry’s wounds. David Langford, a Georgia teenager, reminded Perry to take solace in his other accomplishments:
You may not be President Rick Perry but you will always be a fighter jet pilot!
LouisianaPatriette was devastated, tweeting: “Spent half of @GovernorPerry’s speech crying. He is a true patriot. I am honored to have supported him, will never ever regret it.” ( Daily Intel ’s Dan Amira rounded up thirteen other heartbroken reactions from around Twitter.)
While Perry’s Twitter account remained silent, Griffin Perry, who glumly stood behind his father as he spoke Thursday, sent forth this tweet less than an hour later: “Thank you to everyone that supported dad through this journey. We are all humbled by the opportunity. God Bless America.”
(Missed Perry’s speech? The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the full transcript and KUT has the audio. Want to relive all 159 days of the Perry campaign? The Texas Tribune has a detailed, interactive timeline of his rise and fall and NPR’s Corey Dade has a recap in prose.)