Reports: Scott Walker To Suspend Presidential Campaign
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The still-huge GOP presidential field just got a little smaller. One of the candidates considered early on to be a top-tier contender is out - Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.
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SCOTT WALKER: Today, I believe that I'm being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately.
MCEVERS: NPR's Don Gonyea joins me now to talk about this. Don, what happened?
DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Scott Walker peaked too soon. OK, so Iowa and New Hampshire don't vote until February. You know when he peaked - after a great speech in Iowa at a big candidate forum this past January.
GONYEA: He rocketed up in the polls, took the lead, but he never, ever, ever got any traction after that. And it's tricky because on paper, he was the perfect candidate - right? - a Republican governor who proved he could win in a blue state. He won three elections in a blue straight - blue state in four years. He survived the recall after taking on the big public sector unions there. He had Iowa roots. He's the son of a Baptist minister. But the question was always, could he compete at the national level? We now know that answer.
MCEVERS: And then of course, after all that came the summer, you know, which I think is safe to say was the summer of Donald Trump, and that hurt Scott Walker as well, didn't it?
GONYEA: Oh boy, did it hurt him. And he didn't mention Trump by name today, but he knows that's what happened. And you can tell that he doesn't like the way this campaign played out. He said he felt that the campaign was too negative, too much name-calling and the like. Clearly he's referring to Trump there. Give a listen.
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WALKER: 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 the voters want to be for something and not against someone.
GONYEA: And here's probably the most interesting thing he did in dropping out today. He urged other candidates to drop out now. Don't look for them (laughter) to really take the - follow his advice there. But with him out, there are 15 left. Trump still leads, and he feels that the field needs to be winnowed down further. So Trump has fewer candidates he's competing against and maybe one of them - perhaps Jeb Bush, perhaps Marco Rubio, perhaps to Gov. John Kasich or any of the others - might rise up and overtake Trump.
MCEVERS: I mean, Scott Walker did have big donors behind him like the Koch brothers. I mean, what's going to happen with their money now?
GONYEA: They'll look around, look at the field, but here's the other thing. He wasn't getting results, so that was going to dry up anyway.
MCEVERS: That's NPR's national political correspondent, Don Gonyea. Don, thanks.
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