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Perry Ends Presidential Bid, Santorum Gets Iowa Boost

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The race for the Republican presidential nomination was shaken up Thursday, with news reports that Texas governor Rick Perry is ending his campaign two days ahead of the South Carolina primary election.

News reports cite unnamed sources Thursday as saying Perry is ending his bid following a poor showing in the first nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. He finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses and he lagged far behind the other five major candidates in New Hampshire.

Hours before the news about Perry came out, Republican officials in the state of Iowa said Rick Santorum, a former senator from the eastern state of Pennsylvania, captured the most votes in the January 3 caucuses, not former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Initially, Iowa Republican officials said that Romney, a one-time venture capitalist, unofficially won the caucuses by eight votes, and Santorum came in second.

But after certifying the votes, Iowa party officials on Thursday said Santorum finished with 34 more votes than Romney. However, they did not declare Santorum the official winner because vote tallies from eight caucus meetings are missing and will never be recovered.

The changed vote total could give Santorum, a social conservative opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage, a boost against Romney in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday.

But pre-election polls show Romney as the favorite of Republican voters in the state and nationally to oppose President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Numerous political analysts in the country view Romney as the inevitable Republican nominee.

Two other Republicans are also seeking the presidential nomination. Surveys show that former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich has been gaining ground on Romney in South Carolina, with Texas Congressman Ron Paul and Santorum trailing. The candidates are set to debate again Thursday night.

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