WASHINGTON, D.C.: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday that he is dropping out of the presidential race so that voters can focus on a smaller number of candidates and a “positive, conservative” alternative to current Republican front-runner Donald Trump can rise to the top.
“This is fundamentally important to the future of the party, and more importantly to the future of our country,” he said at a press conference in Madison, Wis.
Walker said debate among Republicans had shifted to personal attacks and away from the basic conservative principles of limited government and a strong military, which he urged the party to put front and center in the GOP presidential race.
“These ideas will help us win the election next fall, and more importantly, these ideas will make our country great again,” he said. “To refocus the debate on these types of issues will require leadership.”
Walker encouraged others in the Republican field, which now stands at 15 candidates with his departure, to consider dropping out of the race as well so that more voters could coalesce around a viable candidate.
Trump had praised Walker after news broke earlier Monday that the Wisconsin governor was ending his bid, saying he got to know Walker well.
“He’s a very nice person and has a great future,” Trump tweeted.
Walker has had trouble raising money as his support in polls has tanked in the past two months, and his announcement comes one day after he registered his lowest support yet in a national poll. A CNN/ORC survey released Sunday found Walker was backed by less than 0.5% of those surveyed — statistically zero. That’s down from 5% a few weeks earlier.
Walker’s performance in the second Republican presidential debate last week was also widely criticized as lackluster, further hobbling his already faltering campaign.
Before the debate, a cadre of Walker supporters in his home state of Wisconsin urged the governor to be more genuine. They said he had modified his positions on issues to score political points, which undercut the very basis of his campaign — that he was unintimidated by political fallout.
Walker had made taking on labor unions a cornerstone of his presidential bid, and union reaction to his decision to drop out was swift.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, tweeted that Walker “is still a disgrace, just no longer national.”