AUSTIN -- Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who insisted he learned lessons from his disastrous 2012 presidential campaign, dropped his second bid for the White House on Friday after just 100 days.
"Today, I am suspending my campaign for the presidency of the United States," Perry said in an address in St. Louis that virtually mirrored his standard stump speech until the very end. "Life is good. I am a blessed man."
Perry is the first Republican in a crowded field of now 16 primary candidates to end his bid. The decision, he said, was made after it became clear that the campaign wouldn't be able to overcome deep financial problems that left him without enough money to run a campaign in early voting states.
Perry was unable to reassemble the Texas political and financial base that made him, at one point, the party's front-runner in the last presidential cycle. In the 2012 race, his campaign was dogged by questions about his readiness, punctuated by an embarrassing moment in a debate when he couldn't name the third agency he planned to eliminate as president.
And just as in his first campaign, the man who was once governor of the largest Republican state for 14 years, leaves the campaign trail disappointed and also politically damaged.
The second campaign began to unravel this summer, with the operation essentially abandoning its efforts in Iowa and New Hampshire. Doug Deason, the son of a $5 million donor to the Perry super PAC, said Perry's campaign had only raised $100,000 since the last reporting period. Deason said Perry delivered the news of the suspension to him on Thursday.
"He felt it coming. He knew there's only so much the super PAC can do," explained Deason, a powerful Texas donor who is part of the Koch Brothers' political network. "After the word got out they were struggling, they did start getting donations in -- but it just wasn't enough to really make a difference."
Deason expects to get his millions of dollars back next week.
"The beauty, of course, of investing in a super PAC is you get the money back that doesn't get spent," Deason said.
Even while Friday's speech was going on, Deason was contacted by Cruz finance director Willie Langston and lieutenants from the Bush and Walker campaigns.
His well-funded super PAC offered help and a willingness to make up for the cash-strapped campaign -- earlier on Friday, it lauded that it was back on television in Iowa -- but apparently that financial backing was not enough
This week, Perry shuttered his South Carolina campaign headquarters in the capital city of Columbia. And field staffers in Iowa and New Hampshire went without pay this month as the campaign tried to salvage its operation. About a month ago, Perry's campaign announced that it would no longer be paying staff across the country.
Some Perry staffers had remained loyal to the campaign, and his super PAC was expected to play a growing, if not unprecedented, role in resuscitating the official campaign. Perry's support barely registered in polls, but his departure will likely create an intense fight for the dollars that have flooded his big-money group, which must spend the money independently.
In the past, Perry has repeatedly lavished praise on another candidate with Texas roots, businesswoman Carly Fiorina.