Wilson quits White House race after short lacklustre campaign

TIM CORNWELL

Washington

The 10-man Republican field for the presidential nomination suffered its first casualty yesterday. Governor Pete Wilson, of California, was expected to announce last night that he was dropping out of the race, only a month after he officially kicked off his campaign.

Mr Wilson, 62, a moderate by current party standards, had hoped to imitate Ronald Reagan in using California as the springboard to the White House. But for much of this year an aide had to deliver speeches for a voiceless candidate recovering from a throat ailment.

It became a symbol of a lack-lustre campaign plagued by staff in-fighting and struggling to raise the $20m (pounds 12.6m) that political analysts estimate will be needed by the successful candidate in the closely stacked Republican primaries.

Mr Wilson was calling his political backers across the country yesterday to tell them he planned to withdraw. Unofficially his campaign has been under way for more than six months, but he was near the back of the field in the two eastern states that traditionally kick off the race, Iowa and New Hampshire.

His status as governor of the most populous state made Mr Wilson a serious candidate who could capitalise on the anti-Washington mood. But while he insisted "I'm the candidate Bill Clinton fears the most", he has suffered from a colourless image.

In California, he won a second term as governor last year in a come-from- behind victory over a media darling, the Democrat Kathleen Brown, when he turned the campaign round on promises to stem a flood of illegal immigrants. But the state's voters reacted badly when he broke a promise to serve out his full second term.

Mr Wilson was pro-choice on abortion and favoured gun control, neither of which endeared him to the conservatives who dominate Republican Party ranks. But he staked out tough positions on immigration, spending cuts and crime. Only this week he signed two measures to expand the death penalty.

He also played to the so-called "angry white male" vote by promising to repeal "affirmative action" to advance ethnic minorities in education and jobs. Under pressure from Mr Wilson, the University of California recently abolished programmes to boost the number of black and Hispanic students.

He used the Statue of Liberty in New York as a backdrop for his announcement speech last month but spoke as the messenger of a colder, hard-eyed reception for the huddled masses who these days arrive mainly via the land border with Mexico.

Critics, even within the Republican Party, suggested Mr Wilson was playing to racially divisive issues. Others accused him of hypocrisy, noting he supported affirmative action for many years as a Californian politician.

Pete Wilson is likely to be only the first of several weaker candidates who leave the race early. The field ranges from the millionaire publisher, Steve Forbes, to the black former Reagan administration official and pundit, Alan Keyes. Senator Bob Dole remains the clear front-runner, trailed by two conservatives, Texas senator Phil Gramm and the writer and pundit Pat Buchanan.

.CAPT: VIEWT MUSIC ERS IN AY

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?