Former US Vice President Mike Pence ended his cash-strapped presidential campaign on Saturday

after struggling for months to convince Republican voters

he was the best alternative to the man he once served with unswerving loyalty, Donald Trump.

Pence's surprise announcement at the Republican Jewish Coalition donor

conference in Las Vegas made him the first big-name candidate to drop out.

"Traveling over the country over the past six months, I came here to say it's become clear to me: This is not my time

So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today,"

Pence told the audience to gasps and, later, prolonged claps and cheers of support.

Pence stopped short of endorsing anyone in his speech, but seemed to swipe at his former boss.

A source close to Pence laughed when asked whether he would endorse Trump.