Michele Bachmann suspended her 2012 presidential campaign Wednesday after finishing at the bottom of competitors in the six-way Republican caucuses in Iowa and finding she didn't have the campaign infrastructure, cash or momentum to go on.
But the Minnesota congresswoman said she will continue to make her case against Obama administration policies that she says bring the U.S. closer to the point of no return unless they are stopped.
"Last night the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice. And so I have decided to stand aside," Bachmann said. "I believe that if we are going to repeal Obamacare, turn our country around and take back our country, we must do so united. And I believe that we must rally around the person that our country and our party and our people select to be that standard-bearer."
The news was not unexpected. Bachmann had canceled a campaign trip to South Carolina despite telling supporters on Tuesday night that she would soldier on.
Bachmann grew up in Iowa and came in first in the Iowa GOP's summer straw poll, but her poll numbers had dropped to single digits by mid- to late September and her campaign was low on money.
Fox News contributor and former Bachmann campaign manager Ed Rollins said Bachmann's loss was pretty devastating after coming in first in last summer's Ames poll. Rollins, who had predicted before the election that she'd finish last, said she would need to drop her campaign since she also has to worry about a redistricting fight at home.
"I don't think she has the resources to go beyond. She doesn't want to end up $1 million in debt," Rollins said, adding, "I think she has nothing to be ashamed of."
Bachmann came in a distant sixth in the caucuses, but told supporters Tuesday night that she was staying in the race as "the best conservative who can and will beat Barack Obama in 2012."
After the caucus results were final, Bachmann called each of the candidates to congratulate them, said Communications Director Alice Stewart. Then she spoke to family, close friends and advisors about her options -- including leaving the race.
"She thought about it. She wanted to sleep on it and pray about it, and she did," Stewart said. "And she woke up with clarity on what to do."
Bachmann made her decision early Wednesday morning and called the group to tell them. Most of her staff, including those in South Carolina, was not aware Bachmann was dropping out until they read it on Twitter.
Speaking to supporters, Bachmann insisted the decision was not based on money, and said she hadn't made any decision about endorsements.
She made repeated references to "Obamacare" -- the health care law Obama signed in 2010 -- and the financial regulatory overhaul law known as Dodd-Frank, warning that the Republican Party must not miss a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to repeal them and stop the slide toward "socialism."
"These words are a warning. The implementation of Obamacare will represent a turning point for our country and our economy," she said. "Our country is in very serious trouble and that this might be the last election to turn the nation around before we go down the road to socialism, to a burden of debt too heavy for our children to bear."
After her remarks, Arizona Sen. John McCain tweeted his congratulations to Bachmann for "an admirable & honorable campaign."
Jon Huntsman, the only Republican candidate to sit out the Iowa race, also praised Bachmann in a statement, saying she "brought an energetic and passionate voice to this race and she should be proud of the ambitious solutions she offered to reduce our national debt and rebuild our economy."
While Bachmann "suspends" her campaign, Rick Perry, who had more than double Bachmann's raw votes but still came in fifth with 11 percent overall, surprised many on Wednesday by offering an elusive Tweet suggesting that though he had returned to Texas to reassess his options, he was still in the race.
"Here we come South Carolina!!!" he tweeted, calling the Palmetto State the "next leg of the marathon" in a tweet.
Insiders and campaign sources later said Perry "apparently" is all-in and has weekend plans.
He is taking two days off that he deserves, an aide said, then goes to New Hampshire for debates and then a full-court press in South Carolina starting Sunday afternoon.