CHARLESTON, S.C., - Mitt Romney got two bits of bad news this morning: an admission by the Iowa GOP that he had not won the caucus there this month and the endorsement by Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Newt Gingrich as a "conservative to put our nation back on the right track."
Asked by ABC's Jonathan Karl for a reaction on the Iowa Caucus results, which revealed today that former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum received 34 more certified votes than he did, Romney did not offer a comment.
But he heaped praise on Perry just moments after the Texas governor suspended his campaign and endorsed rival Newt Gingrich. Romney, the GOP frontrunner who wants to sew up the nomination with a win in South Carolina on Saturday, said that the Texas governor would be missed at a debate sponsored by CNN tonight.
"Governor Perry, terrific guy, terrific conservative, been a great governor was great in the race and we're going to miss him on the stage tonight," said Romney, who was surrounded by reporters and camera crews as he climbed into an SUV following a campaign event at his Charleston headquarters.
Earlier when he was shaking hands with supporters, Romney said Perry is "a great man."
"He made a real contribution," said Romney. "He already has to his state and to our country."
In a formal written statement from his campaign, Romney wrote, "Rick Perry ran a campaign based upon love of country and conservative principles. He has earned a place of prominence as a leader in our party and I salute him for his commitment to making President Obama a one-term president and finally getting our nation's economy back on the right track. The nation owes Governor Perry a debt of gratitude for his years of service to his state and country. I wish Anita and him well."