Rick Perry has always suggested that he entered the 2012 presidential race reluctantly, at the urging of those close to him. Early on, it was his way of conveying that it was not political ambition but a patriotic calling that propelled him into the GOP field. More recently, it's enabled him to take some of the sting out of his profoundly disappointing campaign, to hint that losing wasn't so painful because he never really wanted the job all that much.
Whatever his motivations were when he entered the race last August, the Rick Perry who announced his withdrawal from the presidential sweepstakes (and his semi-ringing endorsement of Newt Gingrich) Thursday morning looked more relieved than despondent. He'd been humbled on the campaign trail in ways that Texans once would have thought unimaginable, and he looked like he'd had more than his fill of it. While Perry's debate gaffes were devastating, a source close to the governor pointed to a host of other reasons for the campaign's failure: insufficient preparation time, organizational confusion in the early months, too much TV-ad money spent too early in the race, and even a national anti-Texas sentiment that lingers from the George W. Bush years.