One source, an adviser to Walker's campaign, suggested the decision reflected Walker's lack of campaign cash. “No amount of Super PAC $ can suffice for hard dollars," the adviser emailed.
In recent weeks, Walker’s star has fallen: His poll numbers have plummeted and donors had become skittish. In the race for just over two months, he’s been unable to gain visibility in a field distracted by the bluster of Donald Trump and other outsiders like Dr. Ben Carson. Though he presented himself at times as an “unintimidated,” union-busting, big-time governor, he also took pride in an “aggressively normal” persona.
During the second Republican debate last week, Walker appeared stymied by talking points and unable to break through. In a debate he needed to dominate, he barely registered with voters.
In Wisconsin, Walker had built a reputation for disrupting the power of union bosses, but that message failed to translate on a national scale. A CNN/ORC poll over the weekend revealed Walker had 0 percent support. But until just a few hours ago, the governor was still active on social media, touting his policy positions. And in an interview on Sunday in Iowa, Walker suggested he could be considered one of the “outsiders” in the 2016 field.
“If people were asking to hire someone, ... I wouldn’t be your person … to build condos in New York City, I wouldn’t be the person you’d hire to be a neurosurgeon, I wouldn’t be the person you’d hire to run HP, because I don’t have experience in those areas,” Walker said, identifying Trump, Carson, and Carly Fiorina by occupation. “But I do have experience taking on the Washington-based special interests, and if people want an outsider—someone who’s taken on Washington before and been successful—then I think in the end that’s what voters are going to look for and we’re in the best position to make that case.”
Once a steady leader among Republicans in Iowa, Walker’s decline has been rapid. In recent months, he has stumbled to define clear positions on everything from birthright citizenship to his overall immigration platform. He caught heat for suggesting in August that a Canadian border wall with the U.S. might be a “legitimate” idea.
Walker was also losing in the donation battle to establishment favorite Jeb Bush. National Journal reported in July that around half of the $20 million raised in Walker’s super PAC drive came from two donors. Former Florida Gov. Bush’s super PAC had raised more than $100 million at that point in time. The Times report cites a Walker supporter who blamed lack of funds as the reason for Walker’s dropping out: “He’s made a decision not to limp into Iowa.”
At a Monday event hosted by National Review editor Rich Lowry, campaign managers for competing Republican 2016 candidates reacted to reports that Walker would drop out.