Gov. Scott Walker speaks at a news conference Monday,
Sept. 21, 2015, in Madison, Wis., where he announced
that he is suspending his Republican presidential
WASHINGTON — Even before
Scott Walker dropped out of the race for president, his
Republican rivals for the White House were chasing after the
remnants of his once high-flying campaign.
Walker's opponents openly
gossiped about the Wisconsin governor's political challenges
as they gathered in California for last week's presidential
debate. Once he formally left the race Monday afternoon, the
jockeying only intensified.
As Walker was calling it
quits during a news conference at home in Wisconsin, his
national finance co-chairman, Anthony Scaramucci, was
fielding calls from five campaigns — including from three
"Out of respect to him,
I want to talk to him before I do anything with anyone
else," said Scaramucci, who was on deck to host several
New York City fundraisers for Walker this week.
By the end of the night,
several campaigns had moved from outreach to bragging about
who from Walker's team they had won over. Texas Sen. Ted
Cruz talked up additions in Iowa, Georgia and Nevada. Former
Walker supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire said they were
now in for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
called Walker a "great public servant" — and
quickly urged Walker's supporters to consider him. Walker
had a large Iowa organization, complete with leaders in each
of its 99 counties, and Bush said he and his team were
trying to win them over.
"That's been some of the
effort this afternoon and going forward," Bush told
reporters after a campaign stop in northern Iowa.
"We're working them hard for sure."
Warning that the 2016
campaign had become too nasty, Walker said Monday he's
"being called to lead by helping to clear the field in
this race so that a positive conservative message can rise
to the top." While stepping aside, he urged others to
quit, too — suggesting that a smaller pool of candidates
would be better positioned to take down Republican
front-runner Donald Trump.
"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 front-runner," Walker said.
None are expected to do so
Ohio Gov. John Kasich
distributed a fundraising appeal 90 minutes after Walker's
announcement noting that he's "the only Midwestern
governor in the race who can bring our values to Washington,
D.C." Former technology executive Carly Fiorina is
surging on the back of a strong performance in the second
Some in the party suggested
the biggest beneficiary of Walker's exit may be Rubio, who,
like Walker, is considered a fresh face with the ability to
unify the GOP's divided factions.
Both men are under 50 and
hold a "next-generation appeal," said Frank Luntz,
a Republican pollster who is unaligned in the race, but
offered his California home to Walker for a post-debate
fundraiser last week.
ideological without being uncompromising, and they have both
earned their conservative stripes," Luntz said, noting
Walker's fight with public-employee unions and Rubio's
battle with then-Republican favorite Charlie Crist in the
GOP contest for Florida Senate in 2010.
Walker and Rubio also share a
personal connection and acknowledged early speculation that
they might run on the same ticket.
"It was personally hard,
but you know when it's over," said Cliff Hurst, who was
Walker's New Hampshire co-chairman. Yet he said he had
recently turned his attention to Rubio. "I've always
been impressed with his character, his intelligence and his
knowledge of how it all works," he said.
It may take weeks for a clear
picture to emerge of the political landscape without Walker.
But with several of the more than a dozen candidates still
in the race registering in the low single digits in national
polls, the competition for Walker's staff and donor network
will only intensify in the coming days.
Within minutes of Walker's
announcement, the Chicago-based Ricketts family was
bombarded with calls from six GOP campaigns, including from
some of the candidates themselves, a person close to the
The billionaire family is
likely be very active in the primary process as donors to
someone else, but they don't immediately know who that
person will be, the person said, speaking on condition of
anonymity in order to discuss private conversations with the
"Our nation's future is
at stake," said Todd Ricketts, who served as a national
finance co-chairman for Walker. "And while I was proud
to help Gov. Walker, I will keep working hard to make our
country a better place."