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Perry's support for Gingrich remains low-key


The following ran in the Feb. 14, 2012, edition of the Austin American-Statesman. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

February 22, 2012

By Jason Embry

When he ended his presidential campaign almost a month ago, Gov. Rick Perry gave fellow Republican Newt Gingrich an unambiguous endorsement, calling the former U.S. House speaker "a conservative visionary who can transform our country."

But Perry hasn't exactly been burning up the campaign trail on Gingrich's behalf in the weeks since. He hasn't made any campaign appearances with Gingrich and doesn't have any planned. Instead, he has made a handful of fundraising calls — both conference calls and calls to individual donors — on Gingrich's behalf.

"Fundraising is one of the most important parts of campaigning," Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said.

Frazier declined to discuss specifics of whom Perry called or how many calls he made but said the governor's support of Gingrich hasn't waned.

"The finance calls are where Gingrich has enlisted the governor's support," Frazier said. "Gov. Perry stands ready to help his campaign efforts moving forward and believes Gingrich is the best candidate to beat (President Barack) Obama."

The rest of the Republican Party might not be so sure. Perry quit the race and threw his support to Gingrich two days before the Jan. 21 primary in South Carolina, which Gingrich won handily. But little has gone well for him since then. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney rebounded from his South Carolina loss with wins in Florida and Nevada, and then former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum picked up wins in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri last week.

Those wins reshaped the race, at least for the time being. A CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday showed Santorum with the support of 30 percent of Republicans nationally, followed by Romney at 27 percent, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul at 12 percent and Gingrich at 10 percent.

"Rick Perry has had difficulty picking a fast horse," Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said, noting that Perry backed former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's unsuccessful presidential bid in 2008....