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UPDATE: Walker drops out to ‘make way for conservative alternative’ to Trump

Scott Walker FOX NewsBy The Iowa Statesman

 

Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suspended his campaign Monday evening in downtown Madison. He made the following statement:

“As a kid, I was drawn to Ronald Reagan because he was a Republican and a conservative. But most of all, I admired him because of his eternal optimism in the American people.  

“That thought came into my head when we were all standing at the Reagan Library last Wednesday. President 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.  

“In the end, I believe that voters want to be for something and not against someone. Instead of talking about how bad things are, we want to hear about how we can make them better for everyone.  

“We need to get back to the basics of our party:

“We are the party that believes that people create jobs – not the government – and the best way to grow the economy is to get the government out of the way and build it from the ground up.  

“We are the party that believes that the way to measure success in government is by how many people are no longer dependent on the government – because we ultimately believe in the dignity of work.  

“We are the party that believes that a strong military leads to peace through strength and that will protect our children and future generations –  we believe that good will triumph over evil.  

“We are the party that believes in the American people – and not the federal government.  

These ideas will help us win the election next fall and – more importantly – these ideas will help make our country great again. 

“To refocus the debate will require leadership. While I was sitting in church yesterday, the pastor’s words reminded me that the Bible is full of stories about people who were called to be leaders in unusual ways.  

“Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With that in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.  

“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 frontrunner. This is fundamentally important to the future of the party and – ultimately – to the future of our country.  

“This is a difficult decision as so many wonderful people stepped up to support our efforts. Tonette and I are so very thankful for the many outstanding volunteers and the excellent staff who helped us throughout the campaign. You have become like family to us.  

“And speaking of family, I want to personally thank my wife Tonette – who has been a rock – as well as our amazing sons Matt and Alex. I thank my parents, my brother David and his family – and all of our other family and friends for their love and support.  

“Most of all, I want to thank God for His abundant grace. Win or lose, it is more than enough for any of us.”

Walker, who had been the frontrunner as late as three months ago, plummeted in the polls following back-to-back lackluster debate performances and fundraising efforts that could not keep up with a campaign that had expanded beyond Iowa and South Carolina. Through a surrogate over the weekend, he had pledged to continue fighting, and promised “more energy and more time in Iowa.”

In fact, his campaign sent out two sets of mailers to Iowa conservatives, asking for their support. Most of those were received just over the weekend, although some Republicans said they had only just received theirs today.

Although he was lagging in national polls, Iowa polling prior to the second debate last week still had him in the 4- to 5-percent range among likely voters at the first-in-the-nation Iowa Republican Caucus in February. The first question now looms: where will those voters now settle in as the field continues to be winnowed down?

The only campaigns with sizable on-the-ground campaigns to reach out to those voters belong to frontrunner Donald Trump — an unlikely pick — as well as Dr. Ben Carson and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who have both run the kind of “positive” campaigns Walker discussed in his announcement Monday evening. Ideologically, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also has a chance to gain supporters as a result.

The second question now looming: when will some of the other low-polling candidates drop out?

Walker was still running in the upper tier of candidates, particularly in Iowa, although that was likely to change when the next round of polls came out. But, the following candidates had polling averages significantly lower than Walker: former New York Gov. George Pataki, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee both had polling averages lower than Walker, but were within a single percentage point as of the most recent national poll.