Once the frontrunner of the GOP presidential race, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has called it quits. When he launched his campaign, Walker’s conservative record in Wisconsin and his tough-as-nails approach to leftist opposition had many conservatives excited about his candidacy. But it wasn’t to be. Good governance didn’t translate into good preparation for the national stage or a good campaign. Numerous self-inflicted wounds — including obviously pandering flip-flops on immigration and the ethanol mandate, as well as lackluster debate performances — and the entry of a certain celebrity apprentice sapped Walker’s lead. In fact, polling after last week’s Reagan Library debate had Walker’s support not even registering on the scale. He thus concluded he no longer had a path to the nomination. He wasn’t going to win back conservatives disillusioned with the establishment, and he wasn’t going to assure the establishment it could settle on him. Donors were heading for other candidates. Coming on the heels of Rick Perry’s departure last week, we find it notable that the first two candidates to exit the field are two governors with established records of reform. Isn’t that what the GOP base is supposed to want this year? Nevertheless, Badger State residents will benefit from his full and unencumbered return to the governor’s chair, and that’s no small thing.
On a final note, Walker encouraged other low-polling candidates to drop out so conservatives could coalesce and beat Trump. “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider [leaving the race] 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.”
> Update: Walker’s full 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.
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