MILWAUKEE – Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the longshot who had pinned his 2008 presidential hopes on a top-two showing in the Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll, has decided to end his candidacy, FOX News has learned.
"I'm outta the race," Thompson told MyFoxMilwaukee.com.
Thompson, 65, said he felt like he'd been hit by a Mack truck after hearing the news of his 6th place finish at Saturday's Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll, adding that his campaign was shocked after hearing the results. They were hoping for a top two finish.
While Thompson isn't endorsing any Republican candidate for president yet, he said he's been approached by some of them.
Thompson was facing an uphill battle from the outset, lagging well behind the leading Republican presidential candidates in fundraising.
He raised $473,000 from April to June, while GOP rivals Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani each raised more than $10 million during the same period.
Thompson spokesman Brian Dumas said the governor would make a formal announcement about his campaign within the next two days.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won an expected victory with 4,516 votes, or 31.5 percent. He outpaced former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who had 2,587 votes (18.1 percent), and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, who finished third with 2,192 votes (15.3 percent).
Thompson had 1,039 votes, or about 7 percent.
In the months leading up to the high-profile straw poll in Ames, Iowa, Thompson repeatedly said he would end his White House bid unless he finished in first or second place. He hoped a strong showing would help build critical momentum for his campaign and galvanize his fundraising.
"We were obviously disappointed," Dumas said of the 6th-place finish. "I think the governor worked very hard, going to all 99 counties. He did everything we asked of him and more."
Candidates consider the straw poll a vital chance to demonstrate support that could help them this winter when Iowans hold precinct caucuses, an event that leads off the presidential nominating process.
Thompson's campaign may have been hurt by a pair of comments he made earlier this year. In April he told a Jewish group that earning money is "part of the Jewish tradition," a remark for which he later apologized.
At a Republican debate the following month, he said an employer should be allowed to fire someone for being gay. Thompson, who has lost hearing in one ear, later claimed he misheard the question because the hearing-aid battery for his other ear had gone dead.
Thompson was Wisconsin's longest-serving governor. He won an unprecedented four terms before resigning when President Bush appointed him Secretary of Health and Human Services in 2001.