Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and the only woman in the Republican race for the White House, has dropped out after performing poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire.
New Jersey’s tough-talking governor Chris Christie, who too performed badly in the nominating contests in those two states, has also announced he is leaving the race.
Their exit leaves seven candidates still in the race for the party nomination — the seventh, Jim Gilmore, is hardly noticed but he is still there — which is now focussed on South Carolina.
There are only two in the Democratic race, in comparison, and they will be squaring off in their first post-New Hampshire debate on Thursday, ahead of the Nevada caucuses.
Fiorina announced her exit in a post on her Facebook page on Wednesday. “This campaign was always about citizenship – taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I’ve said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I’m not going to start now.
“While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.”
Fiorina had presented herself as a successful private sector executive — an outsider — who could take on Hillary Clinton without running the risk of being labelled sexist.
She was good in the debates, graduating to the main stage from the undercard league. But her campaign never did catch traction, and she wasn’t able to build an organisation.
Christie too couldn’t break into the top league. He did well in the debates, but got bumped down once to the undercard league because of weak poll numbers.
He decided to focus on New Hampshire from an early stage, hoping it would give him the bounce needed to set his campaign rolling. He fared poorly there, which left him with little choice.
“While running for president, I tried to reinforce what I have always believed: that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation,” Christie wrote on his Facebook page.
“That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough, and that’s OK.”
His devastating take down of Marco Rubio in the last debate, however, will be remembered for a long time, more so if Rubio, who took a knock because of it, doesn’t recover.