There are now 14 candidates left in the race for the Republican (GOP) presidential nomination as another hopeful falls. After entering the GOP race for the presidential nomination as a front-runner in Iowa, after enjoying support among powerful donors and the GOP’s conservative base, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker recently ended his candidacy.
Walker encountered difficulty adjusting to front-runner Donald Trump’s popularity. He was also hampered by his inability to stand out in either of the two presidential debates. Those obstacles left him struggling to generate money and enthusiasm for his campaign. He is the second Republican to drop out of the 2016 race, following former Texas Governor Rick Perry by ten days. In his exit announcement Walker said, “I believe 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.” He encouraged other GOP candidates that he believed to be unnecessarily cluttering the presidential field to leave the race so that “voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front runner [Donald Trump].” Walker will return to his position as governor of Wisconsin; that term ends in 2018.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, the only African-American in the race, said in an interview that he “would advocate that voters not put a Muslim in charge of the U.S.” He said he could not agree with a Muslim being elected president because the Islamic faith is inconsistent with the Constitution. He also said the oath of office for President of the U.S. is sworn on a Bible. A spokesman for the Council of American-Islamic Relations pointed out that Article 6 of the Constitution prohibits a religious test to qualify for elected office. The spokesman also said that Carson’s comments showed Carson to be unfit for the presidency because Carson could not hold such views about a religion and simultaneously represent Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. While Carson did not apologize for his comments, he did say later that he could support a Muslim president if the Muslim rejected radical Islam and Sharia law.
In a survey conducted in the three days following the second GOP debate, GOP voters who watched the debate declared Carly Fiorina the winner and Donald Trump the loser. Trump is still front-runner with 24 percent support which is an eight percent decrease from when he polled 32 percent last month. Fiorina, the only female in the race, now ranks second in the polls with 15 percent support, up from three percent. She is just ahead of Carson who is in third place with 14 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (FL), who showed his foreign policy acumen during the second debate, is in fourth place with 11 percent support, up from three percent in last month’s poll. Former FL Gov. Jeb Bush is in fifth place with nine percent support. Five of the candidates (including Walker) received less than one-half of one percentage point support.
Of significant interest is the fact that neither of the three current leading candidates has ever held an elected political office, while all of the other candidates have.