Scott Walker is reportedly set to announce that he is dropping out of the presidential race. The news was first reported by the New York Times, and Walker will make an official announcement at a press conference Monday evening in Madison, Wis., at 6:00 p.m. EST.
Even some of the governor’s own staffers, who were summoned to a meeting and informed of the news this afternoon, were taken by surprise, according to two sources close to the campaign. Several of them first learned of the governor’s plans from news reports. Rumors of a staff shakeup had circulated for weeks and given the campaign’s recent troubles, a leadership change wouldn’t have been entirely surprising.
But the news that campaign Monday afternoon certainly was. “Obviously it’s disappointing to people who supported Scott,” says Robert O’Brien, who has served as a senior foreign policy adviser to the governor. “Clearly this is a very unusual campaign cycle and something we’ve never seen before.”
Walker has plummeted in the polls in recent weeks: The one-time front-runner hit a nadir this weekend when he registered below half a percentage point — as an asterisk — in the latest CNN poll. The dramatic fall came thanks to a number of self-inflicted wounds, from an early focus on Iowa to several clumsy statements on the campaign trail.
Rumors of profligate spending have also plagued his campaign from the outset. Forced to staff up virtually overnight when he shot to the top of the polls in January, the governor amassed a staff of around 90 and was paying salaries far higher than those of competing campaigns.
All that meant the campaign needed to sustain the early momentum and simply couldn’t weather the bumps that presented themselves — rather significant ones, as it turns out – on the long road to the early nominating contests this cycle.
O’Brien credits Walker with a victory in the war of ideas, noting that he sparked conversation about the administration’s posture toward China, calling for the cancelation of President Xi’s upcoming state visit.
Rich Lowry and I recently traced the rise and fall of the Walker candidacy. You can read our piece here.