Moments after Rick Perry quit the Republican presidential race and endorsed Newt Gingrich, his top South Carolina adviser ripped into the primary selection process.

"This has become the reality show of presidential politics, that's what the Republican Party has let happen," former S.C. GOP Chairman Katon Dawson said at the Hyatt Hotel in North Charleston, where Perry made his exit Thursday.

Dawson went on to call the process a reality show made up of "30-second sound bites."

The departure of the Texas governor ended a White House bid that lasted a mere six months, after he officially launched his bid in downtown Charleston during a convention of conservative bloggers in August.

After Perry bowed out, he said Gingrich has the conservative credentials to take the fight to President Barack Obama.

"Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?" Perry said, before addressing his Christian faith. "I believe in the power of redemption."

Later in the day, Gingrich said he was "humbled and honored" to have Perry's support, adding that S.C. voters have a chance Saturday to nominate "a bold Reagan conservative."

"I ask the supporters of Governor Perry to look at my record of balancing the budget, cutting spending, reforming welfare, and enacting pro-growth policies to create millions of new jobs and humbly ask for their vote," he said.

Another ranking Perry adviser said the governor actually had made the decision to drop out of the race Wednesday afternoon, realizing "it was a steep hill to climb" in South Carolina. Polls show him lagging in the back of the pack with about a 5 percent level of support heading into Saturday's vote.

"South Carolina really was a final flag in the ground, as it were," spokesman Ray Sullivan said at the Hyatt. Money also was an issue.

Sullivan defended the campaign's thrust in South Carolina, saying the idea of focusing on visits to smaller town outside the dominant media markets, such as Summerville and Walterboro, was the type of hands-on politicking Perry favored most.

Sullivan could not say when Perry first considered dropping out, only saying that diminishing hopes became clear Wednesday afternoon.