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So Rick Perry's tweet (see above) was real: He's still in the race, and according to Jonathan Martin, his decision to stay in caught some of his campaign staff by surprise. But they now appear to be on the same page:
Perry campaign manager Joe Allbaugh confirmed to POLITICO that the governor is going forward.
“Staying,” Allbaugh wrote in an email when asked if Perry was remaining in the race.
A source close to Perry said he decided to make a stand in South Carolina because “he is not a quitter and really is the only true conservative in the race.”
“Records matter, start comparing,” the source said.
Perry’s decision to campaign in South Carolina is a major blow to Rick Santorum’s hopes of consolidating conservatives behind his candidacy. If Perry and Newt Gingrich are still in the GOP race when it heads south on January 21st, the base will likely be divided between conservatives.
That certainly seems like a reasonable analysis, but as Taegan Goddard pointed out, there is another possible scenario: Rick Perry could use his $3 million war chest to blister Mitt Romney in South Carolina. It wouldn't do Romney much good to have a divided conservative field if he himself is thoroughly bloodied. And from Rick Perry's point of view, the only shot he has of becoming president—however remote it may be—is to not quit too soon. Just ask Tim Pawlenty.
Originally posted to The Jed Report on Wed Jan 04, 2012 at 10:01 AM PST.