The other thread’s filling up so let’s get a new one going for his press conference, which should be starting at any moment. Will he endorse? Will he take questions? Will he throw a rhetorical punch at Trump? The mood here should be roughly similar to Bill Buckner calling a press conference moments after he let that ground ball go through his legs in the World Series.
Another key question: Is it officially time to start a RomneyWatch? The answer to that, I can assure you, is no. You know why? Because the RomneyWatch at Hot Air never stopped in the first place, baby. The thread is open.
Update: Matt Lewis sees Walker’s death as one by a thousand cuts.
The thing that really soured me on him, however, was the very transparent way that his team decided Iowa was “must win,” telegraphed it, and then proceeded to pander to the populist right that presumably constitutes the base of the Iowa caucuses. It began when Walker ousted strategist Liz Mair for having said some uncharitable things about the state, but really manifested itself in the hurling of uncharacteristic red meat.
He flip-flopped on immigration, going so far as to say that it wasn’t a flip-flop since he didn’t vote on it. Then he went over the top on saying that he wanted a Constitutional amendment to let states ban gay marriage — but then (apparently) sent his wife out to let it be known that she disagreed. He started to look like a phony who would do or say whatever it took to be elected.
And then, having betrayed anyone not on the populist right (which includes center-right opinion leaders, establishment RINOS, and everyone in between), and having doubled down on being Iowa’s hard-right populist, Walker was completely out-flanked by Donald Trump (and Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz). But mostly Donald Trump. Walker looked like a wimp on the debate stage. He had no charisma. He didn’t look like a president. He didn’t even look like a bully, as Trump does. He looked like the guy whose lunch money the bully takes.
That’s the thing — it’s not just that the guy had a bad time on one of the aspect of the campaign, it’s he seemed to have nothing but bad times on all of them. At some point, the sheer accumulation of underwhelming feelings in watching him peeled people away for good.
Update: Big labor is tap-dancing on his grave, notes Politico.
“As Gov. Scott Walker leaves this race,” added American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, “this is much clear: You can’t build a campaign by tearing working people down and attacking their aspirations for a better life. Real change starts with bringing people together to find common ground and boost everyone’s American Dream, not to ‘divide and conquer’ or make a reputation by stripping workers’ rights, as Walker so often boasted.”…
“This is a clear rebuke of the anti-worker platform on which Governor Walker based his entire presidential campaign,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, Municipal, and County Employees. “This should serve as a wake-up call to all politicians who seek to further their careers by silencing the voices of working people.”
Update: And just like that, within about three minutes of beginning to speak, he’s done. We’ll have video soon. One very unusual takeaway — he called on other candidates to drop out too.
Update: Here’s Walker’s statement, which his team just sent out:
As a kid, I was drawn to Ronald Reagan because he was a Republican and a conservative. But most of all, I admired him because of his eternal optimism in the American people.
That thought came into my head when we were all standing at the Reagan Library last Wednesday. President Reagan was good for America because he was an optimist.
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 voters want to be for something and not against someone. Instead of talking about how bad things are, we want to hear about how we can make them better for everyone.
We need to get back to the basics of our party:
We are the party that believes that people create jobs – not the government – and the best way to grow the economy is to get the government out of the way and build it from the ground up.
We are the party that believes that the way to measure success in government is by how many people are no longer dependent on the government – because we ultimately believe in the dignity of work.
We are the party that believes that a strong military leads to peace through strength and that will protect our children and future generations – we believe that good will triumph over evil.
We are the party that believes in the American people – and not the federal government.
These ideas will help us win the election next fall and – more importantly – these ideas will help make our country great again.
To refocus the debate will require leadership. While I was sitting in church yesterday, the pastor’s words reminded me that the Bible is full of stories about people who were called to be leaders in unusual ways.
Today, I believe that 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.
I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner. This is fundamentally important to the future of the party and – ultimately – to the future of our country.
This is a difficult decision as so many wonderful people stepped up to support our efforts. Tonette and I are so very thankful for the many outstanding volunteers and the excellent staff who helped us throughout the campaign. You have become like family to us.
And speaking of family, I want to personally thank my wife Tonette – who has been a rock – as well as our amazing sons Matt and Alex. I thank my parents, my brother David and his family – and all of our other family and friends for their love and support.
Most of all, I want to thank God for His abundant grace. Win or lose, it is more than enough for any of us.
In other words, he wants single-digit guys like Jindal to follow him out so that their voters can unite behind Marco Rubio, a guy whom Walker’s spoken highly of before and who’s running the most conspicuously “positive” campaign in the field. Why? To beat Trump, of course. That’s what the business about personal attacks and making America great again is about.
So here we go with phase two of the Republican primaries. It’s now official: The new mission is to stop Trump.
Update: Look who’s quick out of the chute with a statement praising Walker.
Rubio has very kind words for Walker after his drop-out pic.twitter.com/TbPzyIYwGZ
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) September 21, 2015
Team Marco also announced this afternoon that the co-chair of Walker’s campaign in New Hampshire has just endorsed Rubio. The center-right is coalescing.