- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann ended her presidential bid Wednesday, a day after voters in Iowa, her birth state, left her in sixth place — last of all the major Republican candidates who competed here.

“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside,” Mrs. Bachmann said at a morning press conference.

Iowa has a history of helping to narrow the presidential field, and Mrs. Bachmann may not be the only one it winnows out. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday he was canceling a planned trip to South Carolina and returning to Texas to rethink his bid after a fifth-place showing. But on Wednesday morning he tweeted a message to supporters suggesting he will remain in the race for now.

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State … Here we come South Carolina!!!” Mr. Perry tweeted, complete with a photo of himself dressed in workout gear and giving the thumbs-up sign.

The three-term congresswoman’s exit and Mr. Perry’s initial hesitation could provide an opening for other candidates who have been seeking to run as the conservative alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who narrowly won Iowa’s caucuses and remains the front-runner for the GOP nomination.

Mrs. Bachmann’s poor showing here marked a giant turnaround from the summer, when she won the Iowa Republican Party’s straw poll and led in polling here. But the intervening four months left her struggling to compete as Mr. Perry entered the race and won over her supporters, and then other candidates surged to the top in quick succession.

Mrs. Bachmann didn’t win a single county here. And she didn’t even place in the top four in Black Hawk County, which includes Waterloo, where she was born and which she regularly referred to on the campaign trail as the place that shaped her values and beliefs.

On Tuesday, speaking to supporters, Mrs. Bachmann sounded defiant, saying there were “many more chapters to be written” in the nomination battle. She had planned to travel to South Carolina and compete in that state’s Jan. 21 primary.

But by Wednesday morning the path forward looked impossible.

“I have no regrets. None whatsoever,” Mrs. Bachmann said, promising to continue to fight against Democrats’ health care law.

Susan Crabtree contributed to this article.

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