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Republican Scott Walker exits 2016 US presidential race

Updated: 2015-09-22 10:12

Republican Scott Walker exits 2016 US presidential race

Wisconsin governor and Republican candidate for president Scott Walker reacts during a campaign event at a diner in Amherst, New Hampshire, in this file photo taken July 16, 2015. Walker plans to drop out of the 2016 presidential race after determining he has no path to win, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing three unnamed Republicans familiar with Walker's decision. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK - Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin abruptly pulled out of the 2016 US presidential race on Monday, doomed by a lightning-quick collapse from serious contender to also-ran candidate struggling to raise money.

Walker's departure left his rivals seeking the Republican nomination for the November 2016 presidential election scrambling to appeal to his supporters in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire as well as elsewhere.

Experts saw potential gain for conservative candidates like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee as well as center-right contenders such as Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Jeb Bush.

For Walker, a shaky performance on the campaign trail plus two lackluster performances at Republican debates spooked financial donors. His staff disagreed about how the 47-year-old Walker could regain the star status he held after electrifying conservatives in Iowa in January.

"He started with great expectations and he didn't meet 'em," said Iowa Republican strategist Doug Gross. "You go down pretty fast when that happens."

Walker's departure reflected the difficulty faced by the 15-candidate field in attracting enough financial support from a limited pool of donors. Other low-polling Republicans may well pull out in the weeks ahead.

Walker's campaign has been in trouble for weeks, but his departure was still a surprise, although there had been talk of a shakeup of his team.

The campaign sought to renew its focus on Iowa given its proximity to Wisconsin, but a CNN/ORC poll on Sunday showed the magnitude of his problems.

Walker had less than 1 percent support, a dramatic slide from one of the front-runners when he announced his campaign in early July.

Some Republicans said that by exiting quickly, four months before Iowa holds the first nominating contest of the 2016 election season, Walker showed a maturity that may help him salvage his reputation should he decide to run again in the future.

"Today, I believe 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," Walker said.

Walker appeared to direct scorn at tough-talking New York billionaire Donald Trump, the party's front-runner who now leads in Iowa, where Walker had staked a claim. He said the party's debate has "drifted into personal attacks."

"In the end I believe that the voters want to be for something and not against someone. Instead of talking about how bad things are, we want to hear how they can make them better for everyone. We need to get back to the basics of our party," he said.

He called on some of his rivals for the Republican nomination to join him in exiting the race to give voters a chance to rally around a front-runner that can win the election.

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