The Republican herd begins to thin. The former GOP darling, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, was the most recent casualty and announced Monday that he was formally suspending his campaign.
And not surprisingly, Walker urged others to quit, too, so they could together “clear the field” to take down front-runner Donald Trump.
Walker exited the 2016 campaign at an announcement in Wisconsin Monday.
“Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race,” Walker said in a news conference. “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”
Walker said that is “fundamentally important to the future of the party and more importantly to the future of our country,” to stop Trump.
He found himself unable to adjust to Trump’s popularity or break out in either of the first two GOP debates. Both he and candidate Rick Perry took time from their exit announcements to warn of the billionaire businessman’s influence on the GOP as they stepped aside, although neither called him out by name.
Walker’s fall was in many ways more dramatic than Perry’s.
He was thought to be a leader in the big pack for much of the year and built a massive national organization, with paid staff spread across the country, that dwarfed many of his rivals in scale and scope.
“I don’t think he made any really big mistakes,” said Iowa state Sen. Mark Costello, who endorsed Walker earlier this year. “But people lost enthusiasm.”
Walker, 47, tried to appeal to religious conservatives, tea party conservatives and the more traditional GOP base. He cast himself as an unintimidated conservative fighter who had a record of victories in a state that hasn’t voted Republican for president since 1984.
Like Perry, however, Walker found little room for such a message in a race dominated by Trump.
Trump tweeted in response to Walker’s decision, “he’s a very nice person and has a great future.”
Many of Walker’s troubles were not of Trump’s making.
Walker took days to clarify whether he supported ending birthright citizenship. He initially showed interest in building a wall between the U.S. and Canada, only to laugh it off as ridiculous. He also declared he wasn’t a career politician, despite having held public office for 22 straight years.
After his fade in polls, Walker took a more aggressive approach, promising to “wreak havoc” on Washington. He vowed to take on unions as president, just as he did as governor, outlawing them for federal government workers.
But the anti-union policy proposal fell flat; announced in the days before the second GOP debate, it wasn’t mentioned at all — by Walker or anyone else — on stage.
While only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had more super PAC money available to boost their chances in the original 17-person 2016 Republican field, Walker struggled to generate money for his official campaign.
He has yet to report fundraising totals to federal regulators, but top fundraisers and donors have said his plummeting poll numbers left them struggling to generate cash.
The Associated Press contributed to this report