It’s a busy day in the race for President on the Republican side as Rick Perry drops out of the race to endorse Newt Gingrich and a recount determines Rick Santorum received the most votes in the Iowa caucus.

Perry announced his decision Thursday at a news conference in South Carolina, two days before the state’s primary. Perry said he concluded there was no “viable path forward” for him in the race. He praised Gingrich as a “conservative visionary.”

The remaining candidates will debate in a CNN debate tonight.



In Iowa. Republican officials say the final count of the Iowa caucuses puts Rick Santorum ahead of Mitt Romney by 34 votes, but no winner will be declared because votes from eight precincts are missing.

Romney, the front-runner in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, initially had been considered the winner by 8 votes in the event’s closest finish ever.

Iowa Republicans are to announce the tally Thursday morning. Republican officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to pre-empt the announcement , said

Santorum would end up with 29,839 votes to Romney’s 29,805.

Obama Campaign Launches First TV Ad

President Barack Obama is launching his first television ad of his re-election campaign, defending his energy record and citing his work to toughen ethics rules.

The ad opens by citing “secretive billionaires attacking President Obama” and says that the president has added 2.7 million clean energy jobs while reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. It calls Obama’s record on ethics “unprecedented.”

An Obama campaign official says the campaign has bought advertising time in at least six states that will be critical to the president’s re-election bid — Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Iowa and on national cable television. The official spoke on condition of anonymity and was not authorized to speak publicly about internal campaign strategy.

Obama’s campaign is expected to launch the television advertising on Thursday.


Republicans set to release official Iowa count

Republican Party of Iowa officials are set to release certified vote totals from the Jan. 3 caucuses, the

closest outcome in the event’s history.

The totals will be announced Thursday morning at the party’s headquarters near the Statehouse in Des Moines. The actual documents from each of the 1,774 precincts, grouped by county, will then be made available to presidential campaigns, and media representatives will have access to the documents later in the


The vote total reported by the party on the night of the caucuses showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 30,015 votes, just eight ahead of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 30,007.

That slim margin has been called into question by reports of errors in tabulations in some precincts.


An independent study says the tax plan by Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum would cut taxes for most Americans, while adding $900 billion to the budget deficit in a single year.

The study by a Washington think tank, the Tax Policy Center, says 69 percent of households would get tax cuts averaging nearly $7,800.

Most of the tax cuts would go to the wealthiest households. Those making more than $1 million would get tax cuts averaging nearly $442,000. Middle-income households making $50,000 to $75,000 would get tax cuts averaging $2,062.

Santorum’s plan would reduce the number of income tax brackets from six to two, lowering the top rate from 35 percent to 28 percent. Santorum would cut the corporate income tax in half, and

eliminate it for manufacturers.

Romney criticized after tax comment

Mitt Romney’s campaign confirms that the Republican presidential candidate has money invested in the

Cayman Islands, but says he’s not getting any tax break.

Romney started a political furor this week when he revealed he pays federal taxes at a rate of about 15 percent, less than millions of middle-income families.

Gingrich rising in SC, but in time to edge Romney?


Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is drawing enthusiastic crowds while reveling in a strong

debate performance and a nod from tea party favorite Sarah Palin.

But it’s unclear whether a late burst of momentum will be enough for Gingrich to overtake front-runner Mitt Romney in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

Complicating his effort are two other conservatives — Rick Santorum and Rick Perry — who threaten to siphon his support.

On top of that, Gingrich is facing a fresh challenge that could undercut his efforts to cast himself as the strongest conservative challenger to Romney.

ABC News says it will air Thursday night an interview with Gingrich’s second wife on its late-night news program “Nightline.” It calls up a part of Gingrich’s past that could turn off religious and cultural conservatives.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)