Walker second Republican candidate to drop presidential bid

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential race Monday, becoming the second candidate to withdraw from the large field of candidates.

"Today I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind I will suspend my campaign immediately," Walker said at a news conference in Madison, Wisconsin. "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 important to the future of our country."

Walker's announcement follows days of speculation that his White House effort was winding down. Walker’s numbers have been steadily dropping in recent weeks.

Walker won early plaudits for his tough stand against government employee unions in the Badger State. A backlash against the governor drew support from organized labor around the country, but Walker survived a recall election in 2012 and won a third term in 2014.

Nevertheless, Walker’s poll numbers had been shrinking through most of this year, with the candidate struggling to sustain an early lead among the GOP’s 17 presidential hopefuls.

Real estate investor Donald Trump and former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, continue to draw momentum away from rival candidates. Walker’s fundraising efforts have reportedly been getting diminishing returns.

Just prior to Walker's press conference Donald Trump tweeted, “I got to know Scott Walker well—he’s a very nice person and has a great future.”

Prior to last week’s second GOP debate, several political scientists told American Media Institute they anticipated more candidates would withdraw from the race, depending on their performance and post-debate polls. Shortly after the debate, Walker began canceling public events.

Walker follows another popular and long-serving state executive out of the race. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry pulled out of the presidential race last week.