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Perry says it wasn't 'a hard decision' to remain in GOP race


WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- Defying expectations that he would quietly drop out of the presidential race in the coming days, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced in a tweet Wednesday morning that he will continue to campaign in South Carolina despite a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. 

"This wasn't a hard decision," Perry told reporters after his 140-character announcement of the continuation of the campaign "marathon" -- which included a photo of himself in running gear -- stunned even some staff who scrambled to confirm his intentions. 

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) told reporters in West Des Moines, Iowa this morning that after reassessing his bid for the Republican presidential nomination that he is going to continue on to New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The governor told reporters that he made the decision to push forward during a morning jog in West Des Moines. "I was out on the trail when it kind of came to me." 

Perry offered some harsh words for the caucus state that handed him last night's defeat, saying he was looking forward to participating in "actual primaries" with "real Republicans."

"This is a quirky place,  a quirky process to say the least," he said of the Iowa caucus system. "And we’re going to go into places where they have actual primaries and there are going to be real Republicans voting."

"The fact it is was a pretty loosey-goosey process, and you had a ton of people who were there that admitted they were Democrats voting in the caucuses last night," he added. 

However, South Carolina has an open primary, meaning that political independents and Democrats can participate in that process, too. 

Perry told supporters in a speech that seemed just shy of a concession last night that he would "reassess" the future of his campaign in Austin. He is traveling as planned to his home state Wednesday but will participate in two debates in New Hampshire this weekend before pushing on to South Carolina. 

The campaign has been torn by spats -- some aired on the pages of national news outlets -- between the Texas-based loyalists on his staff and outside consultants who joined the campaign in the fall. Perry mentioned only two senior aides by name -- relative newcomer Joe Allbaugh and longtime Texas ally and communications director Ray Sullivan -- when asked whom he consulted about his decision to stay in the race. 

Perry declined to say whether or not there would be any staff changes after the Iowa defeat 

"I don’t have any idea," Perry said. "That’s not my area of expertise. I leave that to Joe Allbaugh.”