Former US vice president Mike Pence suspends bid to become president

Former US vice president Mike Pence has dropped his bid for the Republican presidential nomination amid struggles to raise money and gain momentum in the polls.

Mr Pence, whose campaign never took off, told attendees at the Republican Jewish Coalition's conference in Las Vegas "this is not my time".

"After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president, effective immediately," he said.

"I will never leave the fight for conservative values and I will never stop fighting to elect principled Republican leaders to every office in the land, so help me God."

His decision to drop out comes more than two months before the Iowa caucuses, a state with a large white Evangelical population that Mr Pence had staked his campaign on.

It also saves Mr Pence from the embarrassment of failing to qualify for the third Republican primary debate on 8 November in Miami.

"We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets," he added.

Mr Pence becomes the first major candidate to leave a race dominated by his former boss Donald Trump, who turned on his vice president after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

Their relationship deteriorated after Mr Trump became convinced Mr Pence somehow had the power to overturn the results, which is not something a vice president could do.

As Mr Pence refused to act on the scheme, he drew Mr Trump's fury and was cast by the former president's supporters as a traitor.

Over the course of his campaign, Mr Pence failed to attract enough anti-Trump voters from the party to sustain a candidacy that languished in the low single digits in opinion polls.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has built one of the biggest primary opinion poll leads in US electoral history.

While Mr Pence did not throw his backing behind another candidate in his speech on Saturday, he may have taken a swipe at Mr Trump when he called on Americans to select someone who can lead with "civility".

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Despite years of connections, Mr Pence struggled to attract donors and ended September with just $1.18m (£990,000) in the bank, which is far less than some of his rivals.

He is also $621,000 (£512,000) in debt, according to his most recent campaign filing.