Rick Perry Bails on Presidential Campaign; Joe Arpaio Picks the Wrong Horse...Again

If you happen to be running for president, do yourself a favor and avoid Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio like grim death -- for the second time in two presidential elections, Arpaio's horse in the race has crashed and burned.

Just two days before the pivotal South Carolina primary, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced this morning that he's ending his presidential campaign.

"I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path forward for me in the 2012 campaign," Perry said at a press conference in North Charleston, South Carolina this morning. "I know when it's time to make a strategic retreat."

Perry was one of several candidates who courted America's priciest sheriff last year, and was the candidate Arpaio finally settled on -- after months of Arpaio's gobbling up the attention he was getting from national political figures seeking his political nod.

The Hispanic Republican group Cafe Con Leche Republicans said in December that Arpaio's endorsement was the final nail in Perry's coffin because of the sheriff's draconian approach to solving the illegal immigration problem.

"We believe the Arpaio endorsement is a colossal blunder from which Rick Perry will never recover, and we call on Rick Perry to leave the presidential race," the group Cafe Con Leche Republicans said at the time.

Perry, albeit briefly, seemed as though he could win the Hispanic vote in the primary. During a debate with his GOP opponents, the Texas governor defended his policy of giving instate tuition to the children of illegal immigrants who wanted to attend state universities. 

"If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart," Perry said during a debate last year.

He's since backed away from the comments -- and adopted a more hawkish attitude towards the immigration problem -- which is what earned him the nod from a border bully like Arpaio.

Arpaio's endorsement of Perry wasn't the final nail, though -- Perry went on to make several blunders on the campaign trail (not knowing how many Supreme Court justices there are, thinking you need to be 21 to vote, etc.) that helped knock him out of front-runner status.

Perry now is endorsing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and is urging whatever supporters he has left to do the same.

Arpaio, who endorsed Mitt Romney's failed 2008 GOP primary campaign, didn't immediately respond to New Times' request for comment. 

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