WASHINGTON -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who not long ago was one of the top contenders for the presidency, dropped out of the presidential race today.
Walker's announcement says he is taking the lead by dropping out, in an open "Stop Donald Trump" move to urge fellow struggling contenders to get out, too:
"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."
The New York Times, which broke the story of Walker's exit, offered this context:
“The short answer is money,” said a supporter of Mr. Walker’s who was briefed on the decision. “He’s made a decision not to limp into Iowa.”
Mr. Walker’s intended withdrawal is a humiliating climb down for a Republican governor once seen as all but politically invincible. He started the year at the top of the polls but has seen his position gradually deteriorate, amid the rise of Donald J. Trump’s populist campaign and repeated missteps by Mr. Walker himself.
In the most recent CNN survey, Mr. Walker drew support nationally from less than one-half of one percent of Republican primary voters. He faced growing pressure to shake up his campaign staff, a step he was loath to take, according to Republicans briefed on his deliberations.
While Walker had made his most aggressive play for Iowa, he was working the South, too. His Georgia endorsers were led by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville. Walker had visited Atlanta multiple times during the campaign, most recently for last month's RedState Gathering.
Walker joins former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as early dropouts. The Iowa caucuses are just more than four months away.