A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, for Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012:
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
PERRY GIVES UP: Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race, endorsed his old friend Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination and returned home to Texas to complete the three years left on his term as governor. "I have come to the conclusion that there is no viable path to victory for my candidacy in 2012," he said. Money also was a factor, with the campaign having spent "the bulk" of the millions of dollars it had raised since August, a spokesman said. Perry was seen as the one to beat when he entered the race. But he never recovered from a series of verbal blunders and poor performances in nationally televised debates.
GINGRICH EX: In an explosive interview to be broadcast Thursday, two days before the potentially decisive South Carolina primary, Gingrich's second ex-wife, Marianne, told ABC News that her former husband wanted an "open marriage" with a wife and a mistress. Marianne Gingrich said she refused the request to share him with Callista Bisek, who is now his third wife. In response, candidate Gingrich declined to comment on the specifics of the interview or on his former wife. He said his daughters had complained to ABC News about the interview and he directed questions about it to them. Gingrich also left it to his spokesman, R.C. Hammond, to deny Marianne Gingrich's account. Hammond said it "couldn't be any more opposite of the truth."
ROMNEY DIGS IN: Mitt Romney gave no ground on the income tax issue, insisting that he won't release his returns before April despite considerable pressure for him to make them public sooner. "You'll hear more about that. April," he said, responding to a question shouted to him in South Carolina. Romney also acknowledged investing some of his personal wealth in the Cayman Islands, though aides say he never used the location as a tax haven. Romney suffered on two other fronts Thursday, when Perry quit the race and endorsed Gingrich, and when Iowa Republicans took away his victory in the caucuses.
IOWA CAUCUSES: Thought we had been there and done that, right? Well, in a surprise flip, it turns out that Rick Santorum edged Romney by 34 votes in the final tally announced Thursday by Republican officials. But no winner was declared because votes from eight of the state's precincts remained uncertified more than two weeks after the Jan. 3 caucuses. Iowa Republicans previously had declared Romney the winner and Santorum the runner-up, with just eight votes separating them. Santorum wasted no time declaring himself the winner. Romney called the results a virtual tie.
SANTORUM: Buoyed by the news out of Iowa, the former Pennsylvania senator pleaded with conservatives not to give up on his candidacy and urged them to resist calls to rally behind Gingrich. As proof that he's still a worthy contender for the nomination, Santorum pointed to his endorsement from James Dobson, an influential Christian conservative and head of the group Focus on the Family.
_4: Number of fundraisers Obama was attending Thursday night in New York City.
_ "He wanted an open marriage and I refused." _ Gingrich's ex-wife, Marianne, on her former husband, in an interview with ABC News.
_ "I am not done fighting for the cause of conservatism. In fact, I have only begun to fight." _ Perry, announcing his decision to withdraw from the race.
_ "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." _ Romney on Perry's decision to leave the race.
_ "I ask the supporters of Gov. 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." _ Gingrich, on Perry.
_ "This is a solid win. It's a much stronger win than the win Gov. Romney claimed to have." _ Santorum, on the turnaround in Iowa.