Timeline of Rick Perry's wild ride on the campaign trail

Posted Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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Here's a chronology of Gov. Rick Perry's roller coaster ride as a Republican presidential candidate:

May 27: At a news conference near the end of the regular legislative session, Perry confirms that he is thinking about running for president.

June 9: Several of Newt Gingrich's senior campaign aides resign, including Dave Carney and Rob Johnson, two former Perry advisers. The pair will eventually help Perry launch his presidential bid.

June 18: Perry steals the show at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, delivering an energetic speech that increases interest in him as a potential presidential candidate.

Aug. 6: Perry is a featured speaker at The Response, a day of prayer and fasting at Houston's Reliant Stadium. It draws thousands of people and national attention because of Perry's involvement. Organizers insist that the event is apolitical.

Aug. 13: Perry makes it official in South Carolina. "It is time to get America working again," Perry says. "That's why, with the support of my family and an unwavering belief in the goodness of America, I declare to you today my candidacy for president of the United States." He quickly rises to the top of national polls.

Sept. 7: Perry participates in his first presidential debate and does fairly well considering that he is the focus of much of the questioning. The big news of the night is his full-throated defense of his earlier description of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme."

Sept. 12: In Perry's second debate, candidates pounce on his 2007 executive order requiring all girls entering sixth grade to receive a vaccination against certain types of HPV, a sexually transmitted virus, and they question his record of job creation in Texas. The event is later seen as the start of Perry's long decline.

Sept. 22: Perry's third debate is a mess as he struggles to defend his record on illegal immigration and clumsily attacks Mitt Romney's record on healthcare. The next weekend, Alec Baldwin portrays Perry as a fumbling flip-flopper on Saturday Night Live. Polls soon show Perry's support dropping markedly.

Oct. 2: The Washington Post reports that Perry's family had for years leased a West Texas hunting camp that was long known by a racially offensive name. The camp's original name was visible on a rock at the camp in the 1980s and 1990s and possibly far more recently, according to the Post, but Perry insists that it was painted over in "1983 or 1984." Some African-American leaders and lawmakers criticize Perry, but the story never gains traction.

Oct. 18: At a Las Vegas debate, Perry gets into a heated exchange with Romney over whether Romney knowingly hired illegal immigrants to work at his home. His feisty performance prompts pundits to predict that Perry will soon regain his standing in the polls and that the race will come down to Perry and Romney.

Oct. 27: A Perry speech in New Hampshire goes viral because of segments in which Perry appears to be rambling and stifling giggles. Clips from the speech quickly become fodder for late-night comics; some question whether Perry was drunk or on strong prescription medication. An edited version of the speech posted on YouTube has been watched more than 1.3 million times.

Nov. 9: Oops. During a CNBC debate, Perry can recall only two of the three federal agencies he wants to eliminate. Though he tries to move on, a moderator presses the issue, asking whether Perry can remember the third agency. "The third one I can't," Perry eventually acknowledges. "Oops."

Dec. 7: Perry releases "Strong," an ad in which he says, "There's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school." The advertisement draws a barrage of negative reaction online and from gay-rights groups. The ad has been viewed more than 7 million times on YouTube. Perry's campaign later says the ad helped Perry connect with conservative voters.

Jan. 3: After finishing fifth in the Iowa caucuses, Perry announces that he is heading back to Texas to "reassess" his campaign. "With a little prayer and reflection, I'm going to decide the best path forward," he tells supporters.

Jan. 4: After an early morning run, Perry announces via Twitter that he is still in the race and focused on South Carolina, surprising supporters and seemingly some of his staff.

Jan. 10: Perry finishes sixth in New Hampshire. Though his campaign had long said it didn't consider winning the state a priority, pundits still view the 1 percent showing as an embarrassment.

Thursday: Perry ends his presidential campaign and endorses Newt Gingrich two days before the South Carolina primary.

Aman Batheja, 817-390-7695

Twitter: @amanbatheja

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