WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The crowded field for the Republican nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election shrank by one on Saturday when former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced he was withdrawing.
“It has become apparent to me that the combination of my late start, and the front-loaded nature of the primary schedule, have made it impractical to continue to pursue this path towards further public service,” Gilmore said in a statement on his campaign Web site.
“I believe that it takes years of preparation to put in place both the political and financial infrastructure to contest what now amounts to a one-day national primary in February.”
With Gilmore’s departure, there are now nine Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to contest the presidential election in November 2008.
But prospective candidate Fred Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, could bring the number back to 10 if he ends up throwing his hat into the ring.
Gilmore, 57, had been a second-tier rival to top Republican contenders Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain. The one-term governor of Virginia had hoped to win the support of social conservatives, who play an influential role in the Republican primaries.
Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, has been leading most national opinion polls. But Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has been gaining strength in some key states that hold early contests for the Republican nomination.