Rick Perry reportedly is dropping his bid to become the Republican presidential nominee.
CNN and The New York Times reported Thursday that the Texas governor will announce later in the day his decision to bow out; a news conference reportedly is scheduled in South Carolina.
Perry, a staunch backer of Israel who has longstanding ties with leading Republican Jews, surged in the polls when he announced his bid for the GOP nod last August, but he dipped following a number of poor debate performances.
After lagging in the Iowa and New Hampshire tests, he had hoped to rally in South Carolina, which goes to the polls on Saturday. The polls, however, show Perry trailing in the conservative state.
Perry’s exit would narrow the race to four candidates—front-runner Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Reuters reported that two Perry campaign sources said he is likely to endorse Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Gingrich, an ex-congressman from Georgia, and Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, are expected to battle for Perry’s evangelical and social conservative backers.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who tied with Santorum in Iowa and won in New Hampshire, is currently leading in South Carolina polling.