(Bloomberg) -- North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is suspending his presidential campaign, ending a long-shot bid for the Republican nomination that outlasted some bigger-name rivals.
Burgum announced his decision in a statement Monday, saying he remained “committed to improving the lives of every American by moving America 180 degrees in the opposite direction of Joe Biden.”
Burgum, 67, ran an issues-driven campaign focused on energy independence, technological innovation and national security. His early exit — and his refusal to attack rivals, including former President Donald Trump — could put him in a strong position to serve in a future Republican administration. He is currently serving his second term as governor, which ends next year.
Burgum’s campaign will perhaps be best remembered for its innovative fundraising. Burgum gave away $20 gift cards in exchange for contributions of as little as $1.
It was bad business but good politics. The strategy helped him to secure the 40,000 unique donors needed to qualify for the first debate and 50,000 donors for the second. The Republican National Committee approved of the gimmick, which allowed it to build its fundraising lists under a data-sharing agreement. And it turned out to be a message amplifier, as the cards drew attention to his complaints about the high cost of gas and groceries under President Joe Biden.
The gift cards were financed by a super political action committee funded largely by Burgum’s friends, family and business associates. Burgum himself became a billionaire in 2001 after selling his small business software company to Microsoft Corp.
At the zenith of his campaign, Burgum was polling at 6% in New Hampshire in a tie for fourth place. But the grassroots politics of early primary states didn’t translate to national poll numbers. Polls of voters’ second-choice preferences suggest that Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are best positioned to pick up Burgum supporters with him out of the race.
Burgum on Monday cited the increasingly high threshold for participating in RNC-sanctioned debates, which would keep him off the stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama this week.
“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,” he said. “None of their debate criteria relate to the qualifications related to actually doing the job of the president.”
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