Republican road to the White House
Republican Chris Christie has dropped out of the US presidential race after a disappointing finish in New Hampshire.
The New Jersey governor spent heavily and campaigned the longest in the state but still finished in sixth place.
Mr Christie joins former tech executive Carly Fiorina, who also left the race after struggling in Iowa and New Hampshire.
He was praised for his debate performances and was credited with blunting the momentum of Marco Rubio.
During the campaign, Mr Christie promoted his law-and-order credentials, saying his experience as a federal prosecutor after the 9/11 attacks uniquely prepared him to protect the country against terrorists.
Also as the Republican leader of traditionally Democratic state, Mr Christie said his experience showed he could work with both parties to get things done in Washington.
However, as a candidate his positions on issues such as climate change, immigration and gay rights shifted to the right, putting him in line with his more conservative rivals.
Mr Rubio had surged in the polls after a strong showing in Iowa. But Mr Christie effectively painted the Florida senator as the “boy in the bubble” who was overly cautious and scripted.
However, Mr Christie’s moderate rivals – Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush – seemed to have reaped the benefits.
“While running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed – that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation,” Mr Christie said in a statement on Wednesday, making an indirect reference to front-runner Donald Trump.
A former prosecutor, Mr Christie is known for his blunt and aggressive speaking style. His campaign slogan was: “Telling it like it is.”
However, he was quickly eclipsed by Mr Trump, who drew headlines and massive crowds with his brash persona and controversial statements about immigrants and trade.
In 2012, Republican leaders had urged Mr Christie, who was then a rising star in the party, to run for president, but he rebuffed their appeals, saying he wasn’t ready yet.
Yet by 2015, when Mr Christie launched his presidential campaign, his stock had fallen. His popularity faltered after his staff was accused of intentionally creating a traffic jam to punish a political enemy.
His approval ratings in New Jersey also suffered as some residents said Mr Christie was more concerned about his presidential ambitions than his current job.
After flooding hit coastal towns in New Jersey in January, Mr Christie had to apologise after he sarcastically dismissed calls for him to do more to help.
“I don’t know what you want me to do, you want me to go down there with a mop?” he told a man who questioned why he was in New Hampshire and not New Jersey.
Ms Fiorina decided to end her campaign on Wednesday after months struggling to regain traction.
“While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them,” she said in a statement.
The former chief executive of Hewlett Packard had shot to the top of the Republican field after a series of strong debate performances.
Her campaign sought to capitalise on Republican voters’ apparent appetite for candidates outside the political establishment, but her poll numbers quickly faded and she was never able to recover.
Mr Christie and Mrs Fiorina’s departures leave seven Republicans remaining in the race for president.
More than dozen candidates had entered the race over the summer, but the field has narrowed after voters cast the first ballots in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Key dates to come
20 February – South Carolina primary (Republican); Nevada caucus (Democrat)
23 February – Nevada caucus (R)
27 February – South Carolina primary (D)
1 March – ‘Super Tuesday’ – 15 states or territories decide
18-21 July – Republican convention, nominee picked
25-28 July – Democratic convention, nominee picked
8 November – US presidential elections