Just two days before the South Carolina primary, Rick Perry decided at last to drop out. You may recall he was considering withdrawing after the Iowa caucuses, but instead decided to concentrate on placing well in South Carolina. Turns out he wasn’t doing well there either, so Perry decided to throw in the towel and endorse Newt Gingrich.
That’s the topline story. So what can I dredge up from between the lines?
First of all, Perry is the first notable dropout to endorse Newt. Others who were in the race either endorsed Mitt Romney (most recently Jon Huntsman but also Tim Pawlenty and Thad McCotter) or have remained silent as to who they would back. It was thought that Herman Cain would throw his support behind Newt but he made no official statement to that effect, and Michele Bachmann has likewise been mum with her choice.
This also changes the equation of the race, as it’s now down to four main contenders. In political terms among that rapidly shrinking group, Perry’s departure leaves only Mitt Romney with any sort of executive experience as a former governor and Ron Paul as the last remaining current officeholder – Newt left the House in 1998, Rick Santorum was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 2006, and Romney chose not to run again in 2006. And presumably the anti-Romney vote is now split just three ways, with conventional wisdom predicting the new weakest link to be Rick Santorum.
But let’s talk about some other factors at play here.
Yesterday it was announced that the Keystone XL project, an oil pipeline which would have connected the oil sands of Alberta to refineries that could handle the product here in the United States, was shelved again by President Obama. This despite his quest to find “shovel-ready” projects and address the nation’s high unemployment rate.
Reactions? Well, pretty much what I expected. Needless to say, Mark Green at Energy Tomorrow was critical of the decision, stating President Obama wasn’t after jobs but “settled on a different calculus – re-election politics.” The American Petroleum Institute writer also pointed out the Keystone project had been under review for three years, plenty of time to gauge environmental impact. This is particularly true when one considers the Keystone XL pipeline could have run close by the existing Keystone pipeline already in use.