Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced the end of his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and endorsed Newt Gingrich on Thursday in North Charleston, S.C.

I've always believed the mission is greater than the man, he said. I've come to the conclusion there is no viable path forward for me in the 2012 campaign. As a Texan, I've never shied away from a fight. I know when it's time to make a strategic retreat.

Perry threw his support behind Gingrich, calling him a conservative visionary. He acknowledged the intensity of the campaign may make the endorsement odd.

We've had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have, he said. The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God.

Poor Debate Performances, Gaffes Hurt Perry

Perry's campaign floundered after poor debate performances and controversial gaffes tanked an initially thriving candidacy. He entered the race an odds-on favorite against President Barack Obama, as the only candidate with a lead over the incumbent. As of Thursday, he was dead last in polls, with support in the single digits, ahead of South Carolina's primary on Saturday.

Party supporters and GOP leadership began shying away from his candidacy, and made clandestine efforts to encourage his dropping out of the race, according to various reports. His continued presence on the campaign trail had been seen as divisive at a time when Republican conservatives are seeking a candidate not named Mitt Romney to support.

Perry said he had no regrets about his efforts.

So I will leave the trail, return home to Texas and wind down the 2012 campaign and I will do so with pride, Perry said. I believe we provided the right path forward for our party and our nation [...] I began this race with a sense of calling. I feel no different today than I did then, knowing a calling does not guarantee a particular outcome.