Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday evening he is dropping out of the Republican race for the White House, saying he is doing so to help “clear the field” so a conservative reformer with a positive vision can defeat Donald Trump.
“Today, I believe that I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative messenger can rise to the top of the field,” Walker said. “With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same. So that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner.”
Announcing his decision in Madison, Wisconsin, Walker didn’t mention Trump by name, but it was clear who he was referencing. “Ronald Reagan was good for America because he was an optimist. Sadly, the debate taking place in the Republican Party today is not focused on that optimistic view of America. Instead, it has drifted into personal attacks.”
Walker, who ran as a Washington outsider with gubernatorial experience, was once considered the frontrunner in the race. But his poll numbers sharply declined in recent weeks, especially with the rise of Donald Trump’s candidacy. Still, Walker’s departure on Monday from the race was not expected so soon.
The news came as campaign managers for eight of the Republican presidential candidates had gathered in Washington D.C. for a forum on the race. Walker’s adviser, Rick Wiley, had been expected to address the National Review-sponsored event at Google’s D.C. office but canceled as word of Walker’s withdrawal begun to spread.
“It is surprising,” Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz said, adding: “These campaigns are tough.”
Other campaigns moved quick to woo Walker’s supporters.
“We’ve actually just nailed down his New Hampshire state co-chair to endorse Marco, so a little bit of news for you,” said campaign manager Terry Sullivan of the Rubio campaign.