Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry should drop out of the race before South Carolina’s Saturday primary, prominent conservative author Eric Metaxas said at a Sunday prayer breakfast.
Mr. Metaxas said he was optimistic some of the candidates competing for the state’s conservative voters would take themselves out of contention to allow South Carolinians to coalesce around an alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“It’s more likely that some of these wonderful men that are running will hear God’s voice and get out of the race before Saturday for the good of this country,” Mr. Metaxas, who has endorsed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, said Sunday at a weekend gathering of the South Carolina Republican Party – a day after Mr. Santorum picked up strong support from conservative Christian groups. To be effective, the candidates must drop out before next Saturday’s contest, he said.
“This is the last exit before the bridge,” Mr. Metaxas said in an interview later. “They’ve been dividing the vote and so if they don’t do this now, they will harm the country because they can’t hang on to the bitter end.” Other presidential hopefuls, Texas Rep.Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, are less relevant, Mr. Metaxas said.
Mr. Santorum, who spoke at the breakfast after Mr. Metaxas, did not explicitly urge other candidates to drop out, but appealed to voters to gather behind him, regardless of his perceived shot at seizing the White House.
“Will the people of South Carolina vote their conscience or will they let people…. tell you who’s the one you should choose because we have to win?” he asked.