Disappointing results Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary narrowed the Republican field for president as Carly Fiorina and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey suspended their campaigns.
Fiorina, 61, former chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard, announced her decision on social media after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“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,” she said in a statement posted on Facebook. “I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.”
Fiorina entered the race presenting herself as the Republican answer to Hillary Clinton — a woman who was willing, eager even, to aggressively attack Clinton without the risk of being accused of sexism like her male rivals. After being relegated to the “undercard” stage in the first Republican debate, she used a breakout performance there to generate interest and enthusiasm for her candidacy.
At the next debate, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Fiorina was in the prime-time lineup and again delivered a strong performance.
In her most memorable comments from that debate, she claimed that a widely disseminated undercover video of a Planned Parenthood clinic showed “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” Although the video contained no such scene, Fiorina insisted in later interviews that she had seen the fetus.
Lacking a robust organization, Fiorina began to fade from view. Her crowds dwindled, and she was never able to recover, winning 4 percent in New Hampshire after getting 2 percent in Iowa. She was left out of last Saturday night’s debate, missing out on free television exposure because there was no undercard debate.
In her statement, Fiorina also highlighted her status as the only woman in the Republican field, offering a message of feminism.
“To young girls and women across the country, I say: Do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman,” she said.
Christie, a once-commanding figure in the Republican Party who struggled to attract support for his presidential campaign but unsettled the race with his strident attacks on Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, ended his run for the White House on Wednesday.
The decision came a day after Christie came in sixth in the New Hampshire primary, an embarrassing result after he had focused the bulk of his campaign’s efforts on the state. He was also facing the prospect of being left out of the group that will take the stage at the Republican debate Saturday because of his poor showings in the Iowa caucuses last week and in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
“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 Wednesday afternoon. “That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough, and that’s OK.
“And so today I leave the race without an ounce of regret.”
Christie’s theatrical style and management of the recovery effort after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 had made him a national political celebrity, but when he began his campaign in June, he was unexpectedly an underdog. He was viewed with skepticism by conservative activists and beleaguered by the indictments of close associates in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.
Christie’s greatest effect on the presidential race may have come in the debate Saturday, three days before the New Hampshire primary, in which Christie savaged Rubio as a scripted and superficial politician who lacked the qualifications for the presidency.
Rubio appeared stunned by the onslaught and played into Christie’s attacks by repeating the same retort four times.
That takedown of Rubio, however, did not translate into votes for Christie, 53.
Christie finished sixth Tuesday, with 7 percent of the vote but no delegates.