Scott Walker exited the Republican presidential race Monday, a spectacular freefall by a candidate who only weeks ago was seen as one of the party’s most promising new faces.
“Today, I believe that I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race,” he said, “so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind I will suspend my campaign immediately.”
In a three minute appearance in Madison, Wisconsin, Walker decried the politics of personal insults, and recalled President Ronald Reagan’s optimism. Too often, he said, the campaign “is not focused on that optimistic view of America. Instead it has drifted into personal attacks. In the end I believe that the voters want to be for something and not against someone.”
He urged other Republicans lagging in the polls to join him “so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” real estate mogul Donald Trump.
Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, soared to prominence in January with a rousing speech to Iowa Republicans. They liked his challenge to his state’s public unions, his ability to survive a recall effort and his ability to balance a shaky state budget.
But Walker wasn’t able to go much beyond that. He stumbled when asked about foreign policy, had three positions in one week on immigration and his state’s lawmakers had to take tough steps this year to keep the budget in balance.
He was nearly invisible in last week’s Republican debate, and in a new CNN/ORC poll had less than 1 percent nationally of the Republican vote.
Walker is the second major Republican to leave the race. Earlier this month, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry suspended his bid. Fifteen major candidates remain.