Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker arrives for the second Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2015. Monday, sources said Walker would bow out of the GOP race due to falling finances and support near zero. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
MADISON, Wis., Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Once seen as one of the GOP's best hopes for 2016, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker bowed out of the Republican race for president Monday afternoon.
Sources had reported earlier Monday that Walker was planning to abandon his bid -- largely due to low voter support and dwindling finances.
"I am being called to ... clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field," Walker said during a news conference in Madison Monday afternoon. "With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately."
Walker cited an overcrowded GOP field that, in his view, was too focused on attacking each other and didn't focus enough on devising solutions for the nation's problems.
"To refocus the debate on these types of issues will require leadership," Walker added. "I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front runner.
"This is fundamentally important to the future of the party and, more importantly, to the future of our country."
"The short answer is money," a source close to the campaign said earlier. "He has made a decision not to limp into Iowa."
Walker's departure surprised many commentators and his political allies, who said they expected changes to be made -- but they didn't expect him to pull the plug entirely.
"The one thing I can tell you: When you rise and fall it's tough. You know, once you start falling it's probably tough to regain your footing in a field this big," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. "I think a lot of it is Trump, nobody saw that one coming, but it's just a lot of people out there."
Walker topped many Republican polls early this year but has seen his support erode to levels near zero. A recent CNN survey showed Walker's support from Republican primary voters at less than one half of one percent.
Commentators say the governor's campaign has taken a hit by the rise of Donald Trump's. During the second GOP debate last week, the real estate magnate bashed Walker on various issues -- particularly involving the Wisconsin economy.
"You were supposed to make $1 billion in the state. You've lost $2.2 million," Trump told Walker during the live debate. "When the people of Iowa found that out, I went to No. 1 and you went down the tubes."