In just over four months, Republicans will cast their first votes of the 2016 election. There are 15 GOP candidates today -- but there will not be 15 candidates by then. Already, governors Rick Perry and Scott Walker have bowed out. As others plot their path to the White House and realize they need an off ramp, here are some do's and dont's ahead of that decision.
· Do - Write your resignation statement yourself. For your supporters, they need to hear your voice -- not talking points. Only you can explain why you're leaving the race.
· Do - Signal who you think should advance/win the primary. This is bold and shows a point of view. Let your followers know who they should consider supporting next.
· Do - Take a vacation. Get off social media. Take your family somewhere nice for a couple weeks. Make it the period at the end of an exciting chapter.
· Don't - Run up so much campaign debt that you put yourself in a hole that is very difficult to get out of. Try to pay everyone you owe money to -- that's the right thing to do and it makes it easier if you decide to run again.
· Don't - Let your staff find out from the press first that you are dropping out -- they've worked hard, they've moved, sacrificed and believed in you. Tell them before the press -- they deserve it.
· Don't - Be embarrassed or ashamed. Stepping into the arena is admirable -- opening up yourself and your family to critics, developing policies that can pass the smell test, asking for financial support -- none of that is easy (which is why self-funders have it easier in many ways). Making the decision to leave the race is a good one.
Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel's "The Five" (weekdays 9-10PM/ET). She previously served as Press Secretary for President George W. Bush. She is the author of the new book "Let Me Tell You about Jasper : How My Best Friend Became America's Dog" (October 25, 2016). Ms. Perino joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Dana Perino. Follow her on Twitter@DanaPerino.