Mr Burgum, 67, had poured millions of his own money into his presidential bid but after an initial meetup of the candidates in August failed to reach the polling requirements necessary for attendance at successive GOP primary debates. He sought to run on his record as governor, but had little name recogniton at the national level.
In a statement, the governor angrily rebuked the Republican National Committee (RNC) for the debate requirements that forced him off the stage.
“The RNC’s clubhouse debate requirements are nationalizing the primary process and taking the power of democracy away from the engaged, thoughtful citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire. The RNC’s mission is to win elections. It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary,” he said.
The governor continued: “These arbitrary criteria ensure advantages for candidates from major media markets on the coasts versus America’s Heartland. None of their debate criteria relate to the qualifications related to actually doing the job of the president. This effort to nationalize the primary system is unhealthy for the future of the party, especially for a party that proclaims to value leadership from outside of Washington.
“While this primary process has shaken my trust in many media organizations and political party institutions, it has only strengthened my trust in America.”
Mr Burgum’s campaign followed the path of a typical conservative: He focused his time in the race on advocating for more American-produced energy, while also hitting the president over issues including border security and a foreign policy he saw as insufficient in projecting American strength and resolve.
He broke from some of his Republican fellows, however, by embracing more traditional conservative positions that seem to have come to be at odds with those held by the Trump-aligned faction of the party. That includes an unwillingness to consider a reduction in military spending to support Ukraine’s defence against Russia, as well as opposition to an abortion ban at the federal level; he signed into law a six-week ban in North Dakota, but says the issue should remain in the purview of state governments.
That Trump faction can likely shoulder some of the blame (or credit) for Mr Burgum’s withdrawal on Monday; as he departs the presidential race, Donald Trump retains a commanding lead over the rest of the field and held a 49-point advantage over his nearest rival, Ron DeSantis, in a NewsNation poll released this week.
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