Walker to quit presidential race

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will bow out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination Monday evening.

Walker, who has seen his poll numbers plummet over the last several months, has scheduled a news conference in Madison, Wis., at 6 p.m.

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Walker is the second candidate to drop out of the 2016 race, following former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who suspended his campaign on Sept. 11. That leaves 15 candidates in the hunt for the GOP nomination.

One of Walker's major donors, Minnesota billionaire Stanley Hubbard, said Monday he heard the news and then called "one of Walker's key people inside the campaign and they confirmed it."
 
"It's too bad," said Hubbard, a broadcasting mogul who has already given $50,000 to Walker's Unintimidated PAC. 
 
"He's a good man, a decent man," Hubbard added.
 
"Maybe he's smart to do it. If you're going to be in national politics you have to have TV star power.
 
"[But] Scott lacked that star power, apparently."
 
The New York Times was first to report that Walker will announce he plans to drop out of the race.
 
Once the front-runner for the nomination, Walker has suffered badly in recent polls over the past couple of months, falling to less than 1 percent in a CNN poll released Sunday.
 
 
Then came last Wednesday night, when Walker made little impact and spoke for just over eight minutes in three-hour CNN debate.
 
The next day, Walker was on a conference call with donors trying to reassure them his campaign was still viable, with his campaign team, including manager Rick Wiley and national finance co-chairman Todd Ricketts, reassuring his wealthiest donors that everything was under control. 

On a noon conference call with donors last Thursday, Ricketts told major financial supporters that “we’ve got to keep enough gas in the Winnebago as we’re making this tour,” according to two sources on the call. 

But in private conversations, Walker’s donors were saying the situation could be much more serious than Ricketts’s light-hearted characterization suggested. 

“People don’t want to give money to a sinking ship,” said a Walker donor just hours after he hung up on the call last Thursday. “We’ve just got to hope he catches a wave here and gets some kind of comeback.” 

The Associated Press reported following last week's debate that Walker's campaign had more than $100,000 in outstanding debts.
 
Terry Sullivan, the campaign manager for Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads What the gun safety debate says about Washington Trump moves forward with F-16 sale to Taiwan opposed by China MORE's (R-Fla.) presidential bid said Monday that Walker's New Hampshire state co-chair will switch his endorsement to Rubio, which the campaign later confirmed is former state party vice-chairman Cliff Hurst. 
 
"We are prepared as people move on in the race to capitalize on that," he said at an event in Washington for presidential campaign managers. He did not clarify which of the three Walker New Hampshire co-chairmen was switching over.
 
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's campaign manager, Danny Diaz, called the news "surprising."
 
Hubbard, the Walker donor, said and his wife would now put their money behind one of four people: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Carson. "But we are not going to be jumping right into another super-PAC. We're going to wait and see what happens."
 
Another one of Walker's major donors had not heard the news but started receiving calls while on the phone to The Hill.
 
The donor said it was a "sad reflection" on the state of American politics when qualified governors like Walker and Perry were dropping out of the presidential race before "people who've never been in executive office" like Trump and Carson. 
 
Team Walker was about to face a difficult — and potentially embarrassing litmus test — with the release next month of its October quarterly financials.  

Due to Walker’s downward trajectory in the polls, his quarterly results would have mattered perhaps more to him than any other candidate in the race, said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. If Walker’s campaign contributions were poor — and his burn rate (the ratio of spending to contributions) was high, which was rumored — major donors had already signaled to The Hill that they would abandon him for other candidates such as Rubio, Carson and Christie. 

Walker's trajectory in the race reversed dramatically in recent weeks.
 
He began August leading in the polls in Iowa at 20.5 percent support, according to the RealClearPolitics average. A Quinnipiac University survey released last week found him in 10th place at only 3 percent support.

As a sign of how seriously Democrats once took his candidacy, President Obama repeatedly singled out Walker for attacks.  

He traveled to Walker’s home state of Wisconsin in July to tout his new overtime pay regulations, and slammed the “bus full” of Republicans vying to replace him for promoting “the same old trickle-down, ‘you’re on your own’ economics.”
 
After Walker said he would tear up Obama’s Iran nuclear deal on his first day in office, the president suggested he needed to “bone up” on foreign policy. 
 
And he slammed Walker in March for signing a “right to work” law that curbed the power of labor unions, one of the governor’s favorite political targets. 
 
The Wisconsin governor was first elected in 2010, fending off a recall attempt two years later amid a battle with public unions and easily winning reelection last year. Walker announced his White House bid in mid-July with much fanfare and focus on his experience as an state executive.
 
Walker was an early favorite of donors and pundits, soaring to the top of the polls in Iowa and investing heavily, recruiting some of the best Republican staff in the country, including well respected spokeswoman AshLee Strong.
 
The Wisconsin governor spent the next several months outlining his plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare as well as seeking to establish credibility on foreign policy, compared to hawkish candidates such Rubio.
 
But he struggled on the campaign trail, where he was criticized for tacking to the right on issues like immigration and abortion, and for making puzzling assertions that his campaign would later walk back. 

Walker said at one point the nation should consider building a wall along the northern border with Canada, and seemed to endorse getting rid of birthright citizenship, before claiming he was misunderstood on both counts.

—Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley contributed.