Chris Christie ended his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination Wednesday, a day after the New Jersey governor's sixth-place showing in the New Hampshire primary.
In a Facebook post, Christie said, "I leave the race without an ounce of regret. 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."
Campaign spokeswoman Samantha Smith said Christie shared his decision with staff at his campaign headquarters in Morristown, N.J., late Wednesday afternoon, and also called donors and other supporters to give them the news.
Christie on Tuesday night told supporters he was heading home to New Jersey to "take a deep breath," await the final tally of results from New Hampshire and decide what to do next.
Fellow Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina also suspended her campaign Wednesday.
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The disappointing result was the final blow for a candidate whose campaign, at points, saw glimmers of hope but had trouble from the get-go raising money and building support in a crowded Republican field dominated by another brash East Coaster — New York businessman Donald Trump, who won in New Hampshire.
Once seen as a Republican superstar, Christie's reputation was badly damaged by a scandal in which aides purposely created traffic jams to punish a local mayor who chose not to endorse Christie's re-election.
He'll return home to finish his second term as governor of New Jersey, where he faces a slew of unsolved problems and rock-bottom approval ratings from residents who, polls show, feel he neglected the state to pursue his national ambitions.
Christie had staked his campaign on a strong performance in early-voting New Hampshire, where he headed immediately after his announcement speech, holding well-received town hall events. He racked up a long list of notable endorsements from state legislative leaders and, at the end of 2015, looked like he was breaking into the top tier after a video of him discussing a friend's struggle with drug addiction went viral.
But when votes were tallied in the Granite State late Tuesday, it was increasingly apparent that Christie lacked the numbers needed to support a prolonged campaign. He won just seven per cent of the vote.
Law and order credentials
The attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., in particular played to Christie's advantage, allowing him to talk about his previous position as U.S. attorney in New Jersey and play up his law and order credentials. And a commanding performance during the last GOP debate before the New Hampshire primary earned him strong reviews.
But with a field filled with numerous other options, including current and former governors and senators, Christie never consolidated support, despite being praised by both fans and rivals as one of the Republican Party's best communicators.
Christie, it seemed, had missed a better chance four years ago when he was begged by some of his party's most powerful statesmen and donors to run in 2012, when the field was weaker and smaller. But Christie declined, saying that he didn't feel like he was ready.
In the meantime, Christie's aggressive political team worked to rack up endorsements and wide victory margins in his re-election bid for governor as a springboard for 2016.
But his aides took their game of doling out political favours and punishments too far, leading to one of the most dumbfounding political scandals in recent memory.
Mired in traffic jams
Ambulances were delayed responding to emergencies. Children were hours late for their first days of school. And countless others were mired in traffic jams after access lanes from the town of Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge were closed in an act of political retribution.
While Christie first laughed off the suggestion that his team had anything to do with the plot, the denials quickly unravelled with the release of emails including one from a top aide that read, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Three people have been indicted in the scheme, including a former high school classmate of the governor who has pleaded guilty and is working with federal prosecutors.
Christie joins a list of former Republican heavyweights to leave the race, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas governor Rick Perry bowed out before any votes were cast.