Perry out of presidential race — UPDATED

Rick Perry has a news conference scheduled for 11:00 this morning and word is he will be dropping out of the presidential race, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is dropping his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, people familiar with his decision said. He is set to announce his decision at 11 a.m. Thursday, two days before the South Carolina primary.

Some conservative leaders, aiming to stop the momentum of Mitt Romney, had urged Mr. Perry to bow out and to help rally conservative voters around another candidate.

Word is that Perry is expected to back Newt Gingrich.

<b>UPDATED:</b> As expected, Perry bowed out of the presidential race in a speech in Charleston, SC. On the way out, he threw his support behind Gingrich who is facing his own issues with an interview coming out from his ex-wife that is described as being potentially damaging to Gingrich’s campaign.

Tonight’s CNN debate will feature only four candidates: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell