Houston — John Connally's withdrawal Sunday from the race for the Republican presidential nomination follows his distant second-place finish behind Ronald Reagan in the South Carolina primary Saturday. Mr. Connally has failed to garner substantial support so far in any of the early primaries or caucuses.He had hoped to make a strong showing in South Carolina after intensive campaigning , and state Republican leaders had said he would have to do well there to keep his campaign alive.
His departure leaves four principal contenders in the running. Three of them -- former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, former UN Ambassador George Bush, and Rep. John B. Anderson of Illinois -- are officially announced. The fourth, former President Gerald R. Ford, is still unofficial. But he has been meeting with Mr. Reagan's former campaign director, John Sears and has announcing his availability as a candidate if he sees "an honest-to-goodness, bona fide urging by a broad-based group in my party." He has said in interviews that Ronald Reagan is widely perceived as being "unelectable" and that polls indicate that only he, Mr. Ford, could beat President Carter.