NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. - For several weeks, Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign has looked like it was on its last legs. Now it's starting to sound like it is.
As he traveled the western part of South Carolina on Wednesday, Perry urged voters not to give up on his candidacy as he fights to eke out a win in the state's Jan. 21 primary after his disappointing last-place finish in the Iowa caucuses.
"Over the next 11 days, I'm gonna challenge you not to quit," Perry told a group of about 150 people at a town hall meeting in Aiken. "Don't quit on our country, don't quit on my campaign. We'll do whatever we have to do to go share with as many people in South Carolina as we can a story about a great future for this country, that there's somebody that not only has done it, somebody that doesn't just talk about it, but that has got the record of job creation."
Perry has refocused his stump speech in the state to spend nearly 20 minutes at each event talking about the importance of constitutional protections of states' rights, his record of job creation in Texas, and his flat-tax and energy plans. In an appeal to the state's many tea party voters, he has done away with some of the social-issues themes that held appeal in Iowa, such as his condemnations of activist judges and of what he called the Obama administration's war on religion.
"God bless the tea party because if nothing else ... they clearly showed Americans that they need to pick up the Constitution of the United States and read it," Perry said during his last stop of the day in North Augusta.
In another sour turn for Perry's campaign, CNN reported that a group of South Carolina Republican power brokers is set to endorse front-runner Mitt Romney on Thursday, including a top fundraiser for Perry.
Former South Carolina GOP Chairman Barry Wynn, a Spartanburg financial adviser who was a member of Perry's finance team, is now backing Romney, CNN said, and the endorsement by the group signals that Romney has made significant inroads with the state's political class since winning both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.