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Gingrich gains on Romney as Perry bows out

Gingrich gains on Romney as Perry bows out
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Rick Perry is no longer running for the White House.

The Texas Governor has has dropped out of the Republican nomination race and given his backing to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Ending his campaign in Charleston he said: “I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country. We’ve had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?”

The governor’s backing is a big boost to Gingrich, even if Perry was only tipped to poll five percent in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

Mitt Romney still is the front-runner in the state by a 12-point margin but Gingrich has gained vital ground over the last few days and Perry’s support may enable him to form a strong coalition of conservatives.

Romney’s bid to challenge Barack Obama in November’s election has also taken a hit from a final recount in Iowa. Republican party officials have taken away his narrow win and given it to Rick Santorum.

The decision isn’t expected to change the outcome of Saturday’s poll but the former Pennsylvania senator described the new result as a “huge upset” to his rival.

With Romney so far ahead in the polls some analysts say Saturday’s contest may turn out to be decisive for Gingrich and Santorium unless they can win over more of the party’s divided camps.