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Why is Rick Perry backing Newt Gingrich now?

Rick Perry bowed out today, likely giving Newt Gringrich a well-timed lift in the South Carolina primary.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry (with his wife Anita) announces he is dropping his run for the Republican presidential nomination in Charleston, South Carolina January 19, 2012.

REUTERS/Chris Keane

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Rick Perry’s surprise decision to drop out of the race and endorse Newt Gingrich may seem like odd timing, just a few days before the South Carolina primary. But it actually comes at a critical juncture - and in many ways, could play out for maximum impact, in Gingrich’s favor.

Consider:

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