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Doug Burgum drops out of Republican presidential race as slimmed-down debate looms

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/TNS

Doug Burgum on Monday ended his long shot Republican presidential bid as the slimmed-down field of remaining contenders prepares for a crucial debate set for Wednesday.

The folksy North Dakota governor and tech billionaire said he was proud to bring his small-town Midwest businessman’s values to the GOP race.

“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,” Burgum tweeted.“We will always remain committed to fighting for that.”

Burgum won the most attention for doling out free $20 gift cards to donors as a way of gaming the requirements to score a place on the GOP debate stage earlier in the race.

He scored some attention on the day of the first debate when he injured his leg playing basketball and showed up limping for the contest.

Burgum was already ruled out of contention for the debate Wednesday, which is shaping up as a high-stakes match-up between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis as they vie to be the primary contender to front-runner former President Donald Trump.

Haley has been rising in polls for months now, heightening the pressure on DeSantis to come up with a sparkling debate performance as the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus looms just six weeks away.

Vivek Ramaswamy will also be on the stage. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the harshest critic of Trump, was still on the bubble Monday as organizers will decide if he has met the requirement to reach at least 6% in two polls.

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