LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Former Vice President Mike Pence is out of the running.
‘I came here to say it’s become clear to me this is not my time,’ the former vice president said in his surprise announcement at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, which this year attracted all the major GOP White House contenders.
‘So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today,’ Pence said.
The big question going forward is which contenders will follow Pence’s lead in suspending their campaigns for the 2024 Republican nomination in a race dominated by former President Donald Trump.
While four lesser-known candidates had already called it quits, Pence became the first of the major contenders to suspend his 2024 campaign.
One thing’s for sure: More will follow
‘There’s no question others will follow suit. The question is one of timing,’ RJC chief executive officer Matt Brooks told Fox News.
Veteran Republican consultant and media strategist Ari Fleischer, a Fox News contributor, highlighted that ‘consolidation is inevitable. It happens in every cycle… this field will shrink.’
Longtime Republican strategist David Kochel, a veteran of numerous presidential and Iowa based campaigns, said that ‘this is the beginning of the winnowing of the field.’
The former vice president launched his 2024 campaign in early June. While he spent plenty of time over the summer and into the autumn on the campaign trail in the crucial early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, his White House bid never took off.
Pence stood in the mid to low single digits in the latest surveys and his fundraising was meager. The former vice president struggled — but ultimately succeeded to reach the polling and donor thresholds to qualify for the first two Republican presidential nomination debates. But as of Saturday, he still remained short of hitting the criteria to make the stage at next month’s third debate.
Sources in Pence’s political orbit tell Fox News the final decision to drop out of the race came just in the past day or two, after recent fundraising didn’t alleviate concerns about reaching the donor threshold to qualify for the Nov. 8 debate in Miami.
Failure to make the stage at the next debate could lead others to drop out.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have spotlighted that they’ve reached the polling and donor thresholds required by the Republican National Committee to qualify for the debate. And on Saturday, as first reported by Fox News, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina also said he’d hit the criteria.
But North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson — who failed to make the stage at the second debate — have yet to qualify.
‘There will be more candidates who don’t get on the debate stage who fall off — whether formally or literally,’ longtime New Hampshire based national Republican consultant Dave Carney told Fox News. ‘I think you’ll see more consolidation.’
But Carney, who’s worked on presidential campaigns for more than three decades, said that ‘the money and the ego’ will keep some of the other candidates in the race.
Carney predicts four or five candidates will still in the race at the beginning of next year, ahead of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, the first two contests in the 2024 GOP nominating calendar.
‘Iowa and New Hampshire will do the real weed whacking,’ he said.
Kochel concurred, saying most of ‘the attrition is going to take place between Iowa and New Hampshire.’
Pence has long been a champion to social conservative voters, and was trying to make inroads with Iowa’s evangelicals, who play an outsized role in Hawkeye State GOP politics.
‘When someone exits the race, that’s the natural question. Where do those supporters go?’ said Nicole Schlinger, a long time Iowa based conservative strategist who’s well-connected with evangelical groups.
‘If you are Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis or Tim Scott, your team is trying to figure out how to appeal to Iowa voters who were leaning in Mike Pence’s direction,’ she told Fox News.
Schlinger, pointing to Scott’s push for social conservatives, said ‘Tim Scott has the most natural appeal with voters who were leaning towards Pence.’ But said that DeSantis also has ‘a solid record on life.’
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