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Perry campaign 'staying in the race' despite calls to drop out

A prominent conservative blogger joined the ranks of Republicans urging Rick Perry to end his campaign for president on Wednesday, prompting the Texas governor's campaign to reiterate that it has "no intention of leaving the race."

Perry spokesman Mark Miner rejected a new call by Erick Erickson, the editor of the conservative blog RedState, for Perry to drop out of the race and endorse former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

"Pundits are not going to decide this race, the people of SC are going to decide this race," Miner told NBC News. "We have no intention of leaving the race ... We are staying in the race until the primary."

Erickson called for Perry to drop out in a post on his blog this afternoon. The pundit argued that if Perry were to drop out before tomorrow night's CNN debate, it would have time to impact that gathering and Saturday's South Carolina primary in a way that would help give rise to Gingrich as the alternative to Mitt Romney, while restoring some of the political clout Perry had bled over the course of his campaign.

"Either Rick Perry will leave the race Sunday with no political capital and no deposit of goodwill an endorsement would bring, or he will choose to strike one final blow for limited government conservatism," he wrote.

Erickson wouldn't be the first conservative to urge Perry to leave the campaign. But his words carry some more significance considering it was at a gathering of RedState bloggers this summer where Perry launched his candidacy.

Miner dismissed Erickson's criticism, though, saying, "The governor is focused on the people of South Carolina, not a pundit sitting behind a computer."

But Erickson wasn't the only significant voice to call for Perry's ouster, reflecting the pressure under which the Texas governor is falling in the closing days of the South Carolina primary.

Major General James E. Livingston, a medal of honor recipient who was the state chair of Rick Perry's Veterans coalition, is dropping his support and going to the Gingrich campaign. Veterans are a major voting bloc in South Carolina's GOP primary, and Perry had courted that community assiduously.

Regarding his shift, Livingston said he wanted a candidate who can "be the one that can help take this crowd down in D.C." He said Perry "just was not able to reach that point in his political activities here in South Carolina," and called Gingrich "a known product."

"He's been there and done that," Livingston said of the former speaker, whom he'll endorse in a Friday night event aboard the USS Yorktown.

Asked for comment, Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan told NBC News that the governor "has the utmost respect for Gen. Livingston, his service and leadership, and he always will."