Raise a Glass: Christie, Fiorina, Gilmore end campaigns
New Hampshire has had its say in the presidential primaries, and a few more candidates have decided to call it quits.
On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie finally decided to exit the race following his sixth-place finish in New Hampshire. Once a highly sought-after candidate in 2012, and a meteoric star after his reelection in 2013, Christie has undergone more scrutiny for his record since the 2014 Bridgegate Scandal saw some of his top aides dismissed. His reputation for straight talk completely vanished the moment businessman Donald Trump stepped into the presidential spotlight.
Perhaps the most significant contribution Christie made in his campaign was derailing Senator Marco Rubio (R–FL) during the Republican debate on Feb. 6. Christie’s critique that Rubio is scripted was highlighted by the senator’s overly repetitive criticism of President Obama, contributing to Rubio’s fifth-place finish.
Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina also suspended her campaign on Wednesday. Initially placed among the bottom tier of the Republican contenders, Fiorina stole the spotlight in the first Republican debate on Aug. 6. Though she was placed among the lower performing candidates, she emerged as an option for those looking for a political outsider with moderate views. Later debate performances failed to capture her initial spark, and she failed to pick up enough endorsements and donations to remain a viable candidate.
On Friday, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore ended his long-shot bid for the presidency. Gilmore received 133 votes in New Hampshire, more than 10 times his vote count in Iowa. Gilmore was still eclipsed by candidates who had already dropped out of the race like former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and Senator Rand Paul (R–KY). Gilmore even lost to a man named Andy Martin, whose claim to fame was alleging that President Obama is both a Muslim and the son of political activist Frank Marshall Davis.
Despite a few more candidates dropping out of the picture, the race for the Republican nomination remains murky. Although the establishment had begun to coalesce around Rubio following his third-place finish in Iowa, his fifth-place finish coupled with Ohio Governor John Kasich’s second place and former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s fourth-place finish in New Hampshire have sewn confusion over who exactly can be the moderate candidate in the race, much like how there was a large debate over who the conservative challenger to Mitt Romney would be in the last election cycle. Rubio, Kasich, and Bush all have reason to believe they should remain in the race, but the political reality is that the Republican nominee will be either Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX) or Trump unless two of them suspend their campaigns soon.
For Cruz, his third-place finish despite a lack of campaigning in New Hampshire solidified his position as the conservative choice for the Republican nomination.
The clock is ticking for neurosurgeon Ben Carson, the last voice trying to appeal to Republican voters as the true conservative of this election cycle.
Trump stands in a category all to himself, and his power in the race has completely turned the Republican nomination process upside down. Should moderate Republicans continue to remain divided among Rubio, Kasich, and Bush, the chances of a brokered convention will continue to increase, a prospect that should delight the Democrats.