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After disappointing Iowa finish, Perry returns to Texas to "assess" future of campaign

Rick Perry thanks his supporters in Iowa and announces he is reassessing his campaign and heading home to Texas.


This story was updated at 1:25a.m. ET

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Texan is going home. 

 After a disappointing fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night, Gov. Rick Perry announced that he will return to his home state to assess the future of a campaign that remained stalled for months despite prolific ad spending and a frenzied eleventh hour bus tour in the Hawkeye State. 

 "With the voters' decision tonight in Iowa, I decided to return to Texas, assess the results of tonight's caucus, determine whether there is a path forward for myself in this race," Perry told several hundred supporters gathered in the West Des Moines hotel that served as the team's nerve center this week. 

Perry briefly choked up when reading aloud a letter from a supporter who drove from Texas to Iowa to support him.

Unlike his final Iowa campaign events - when he surrounded himself with loyal endorsers - Perry was joined only by his immediate family on stage as he thanked his supporters. 

"You've made every minute of this worth it for ourselves," he told backers. "And with a little prayer and reflection, I'm going to determine the best path forward, but I want to tell you there has been no greater joy in my life than being able to share with the people of Iowa that there is a model to take this country forward and it is in the great state of Texas."

Aides said that Perry discussed the decision with family, senior aide Joe Allbaugh and communications director Ray Sullivan in his hotel suite after the fifth place finish was projected. Perry himself pushed to make the announcement of his return to Texas on stage rather than through a paper statement. 

The next step for Perry will be a powwow with family and advisors as well as a data dive by aides into Perry's performance in the Iowa contest. 

"It's going to come down to a calculus of what the Iowa results really said beyond the first snapshot, what resources we have available financially and otherwise and how we read South Carolina and the potential there," communications director Ray Sullivan told reporters.  

In the waning days of the Iowa race, the campaign hoped that its ground game would propel the candidate to a surprise third place finish or a close fourth place showing. But public polls and internal surveys saw a stubborn lack of momentum despite more than 50 public appearances for the candidate since Dec 14. 

In addition to the weak debate performances and embarrassing gaffes that haunted his campaign, the campaign was also plagued by infighting between its old guard Texas loyalists and more recently added political consultants. 

A public announcement of Perry's next step will come no earlier than Thursday, Sullivan said.