UPDATED with Chris Christie’s announcement: The prospect of not making Saturday’s GOP debate on CBS as a result of lousy finishes in New Hampshire last night triggered pullouts among GOP hopefuls today.
Carly Fiorina suspended her campaign this afternoon, taking one parting shot at Dem candidate Hillary Clinton:
“To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you,” Fiorina said in her campaign-suspending announcement on Facebook. “Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie followed suit, after a meeting with campaign staff this afternoon to break it to them.
“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 said in a statement. “That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough and that’s ok.”
“I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose and I’ve lost elections I was supposed to win and what that means is you never know what will happen,” Christie continued. “That is both the magic and the mystery of politics – you never quite know when which is going to happen, even when you think you do…I’m so proud of the campaign we ran, the people that ran it with me and all those who gave us their support and confidence along the way. “
Meanwhile, ABC News’ Good Morning America reported this morning that Christie’s New Hampshire campaign Chairman Wayne MacDonald said that qualifying for CBS’ upcoming GOP debate was a major factor in Christie’s deliberations. And with the governor’s sixth-place finish in the Granite State (7% of GOP votes), he too would not qualify to make the stage. This afternoon’s withdrawal by Christie leaves Ben Carson, who scored just 2% of GOP votes last night, the only one of the major Republican contenders not set to make the stage for the debate.
After finishing sixth in the primary among GOP contenders last night, Christie said he was going home today to mull his campaign’s future. Christie got whacked by attack ads leading up to the New Hampshire GOP primary, funded by a Super PAC supporting Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio:
But Christie may have gotten the last laugh when he brought “a shiv” to the New Hampshire GOP debate, as CNN’s Jake Tapper described it, which Christie stuck into Rubio on stage and twisted. It was Christie’s unmasking of Rubio’s robotic debate tactic that’s credited with pulling Rubio down to a fifth place finish in last night’s primary, though landed Rubio 3 delegates in that state, to Christie’ 0.
Fiorina said her campaign was always about “taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. … 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.”
Face The Nation anchor John Dickerson will moderate Saturday’s debate alongside CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and the Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel.