Politics

Former California exec Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Christie end bids for Republican nomination

File: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina waits to be introduced at a campaign event at Maple Avenue Elementary School on Saturday in Goffstown, N.H.
File: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina waits to be introduced at a campaign event at Maple Avenue Elementary School on Saturday in Goffstown, N.H.
David Goldman/AP
File: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina waits to be introduced at a campaign event at Maple Avenue Elementary School on Saturday in Goffstown, N.H.
Chris Christie makes a midday stop at T-Bones Great American Eatery in Derry, N.H., as he canvasses for votes on Tuesday.
Meredith Nierman/WGBH


Carly Fiorina is exiting the Republican presidential race after a seventh-place showing in last night's New Hampshire primary.

"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," said Fiorina in a statement on Facebook.

Carly Fiorina Facebook post

Fiorina was an unconventional candidate. Her only previous political effort had been a 10-point loss in a race for U.S. Senate in California, and her tenure at Hewlett-Packard was most notable for her being fired by the board of directors after an unsuccessful merger with Compaq.

Still, Fiorina struck a chord with many Republican voters, many of whom were especially drawn to her fierce anti-abortion viewpoints and spirited appearances on the campaign trail and in debates.

Fiorina, the only female candidate on the Republican side, devoted a considerable amount of time to attacking Hillary Clinton, whom she criticized for reducing her campaign to an appeal for a female president.

"How often does she talk to us about the historic nature of her candidacy?" Fiorina told NPR in January. "Every single time she's on the stump. I don't talk about that. I talk about why I'm the most qualified candidate to win this job and to do this job. Hillary Clinton cannot talk about the historic nature of her candidacy if she faces me."

Fiorina stood out in the initial "undercard" debate in August and rode a wave of attention and improved poll numbers to participate in several of the main debates.

But her momentum stalled, and not only was Fiorina relegated to several undercard debates, she was excluded altogether from ABC's Saturday night Republican debate.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also suspended his campaign for president on Wednesday. Christie's departure, along with Fiorina's, leaves seven major Republican candidates in the race.

"And 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," said Christie in a post on Facebook.

Christie Facebook post

The decision comes after a sixth-place finish in New Hampshire, where Christie had banked so much of his political capital.

It was the second disappointing finish in a row for Christie. Unlike John Kasich and Jeb Bush — the governor and former governor who he was often grouped with — Christie had campaigned hard in Iowa. He spent more than 40 days in the state, according to member station WNYC, despite a moderate resume that history suggested wouldn't appeal to conservative caucusgoers. Christie ended up with less than 2 percent of the vote.

But for Christie, New Hampshire had been the do-or-die state. And after winning less than 7 percent of the vote there, he's calling it quits.

Of all the "what ifs" in the Republican presidential campaign, Christie's is perhaps the most alluring. What if he had run for president in 2012, instead of 2016? Many Republicans were dissatisfied with eventual nominee Mitt Romney that year, and Christie carried on a long flirtation with entering the race himself before deciding not to.

Although Christie faced the biggest challenge of his gubernatorial tenure that fall, when Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, he would never again hold the popular appeal that he did with his party before 2012. He angered many Republicans by publicly embracing President Obama during a disaster tour days before the election. And one year later, Christie was dragged into what became known as "Bridgegate," when some of his top aides created several days of gridlock in the New York City suburb of Fort Lee, N.J., as an alleged act of political retribution.

While Christie never broke from the pack, he still made a lasting mark on the New Hampshire primary, knocking the surging Marco Rubio off his game at Saturday's debate by berating Rubio for repeating the same talking point over and over. Rubio ended up finishing fifth, but as WNYC's Matt Katz put it, the move may have ultimately cost Christie votes, too.

"Christie didn't really attack like he knows how to attack until last Saturday night, when he knocked out Rubio at the debate," Katz wrote. "That was apparently a murder-suicide, because while Rubio's reputation was gravely damaged, Christie didn't help himself."

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This story has been updated.