North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum drops out of 2024 presidential race

Republican candidate Doug Burgum speaks at a town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire, hosted by USA TODAY.
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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum became the latest Republican candidate to drop out of the 2024 presidential race when he announced Monday that he was suspending his campaign.

Despite his underdog status since launching his bid in June, Burgum had rejected growing calls for him to exit the crowded field of GOP hopefuls.

"We launched our campaign with a clear-eyed mission: Bring a business leader and proven governor’s voice to fight for the best of America. We will always remain committed to fighting for that, and for the people who make our nation so exceptional," Burgum said in a statement Monday. He did not immediately endorse another Republican candidate.

The two-term governor made energy policy and national security cornerstones of his presidential campaign. The former software entrepreneur and billionaire qualified for the first and second Republican debate, despite his lack of name recognition.

The achievement was in large part a result of his offer of $20 gift cards to anyone who donated at least $1 to his campaign. The controversial scheme helped Burgum reach the Republican National Committee's fundraising requirements for the first debate.

Burgum failed to make the debate stage the third time around for last month's faceoff in Miami and appeared to fall short again for the requirements of Wednesday's debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The governor criticized the debate qualifications and their creator – the Republican National Committee – on Monday for “nationalizing the primary process and taking the power of democracy" from voters in early primary states.

“It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary,” he said. “These arbitrary criteria ensure advantages for candidates from major media markets on the coasts versus America’s Heartland. None of their debate criteria relate to the qualifications related to actually doing the job of the president.”

His 2024 presidential run was not Burgum's first underdog campaign. The now two-term governor delivered an upset in 2016 as a political newcomer, defeating popular North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem in the gubernatorial Republican primary.

Burgum follows the exit of former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott from the Republican field.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Republican Doug Burgum of North Dakota drops out of 2024 race