After a disappointing fifth-place finish in Monday’s Iowa caucuses – and a late challenge for his Senate seat – Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced Wednesday that he would suspend his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House,” Paul said in a statement. “Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of liberty.”
Despite struggling to break 10 percent in most polls since launching his campaign last year, Paul nonetheless hoped a surge of young voters, much like the intensely loyal group who propelled his father, former Rep. Ron Paul, through several presidential bids of his own, would help carry him beyond Monday’s Iowa caucuses. His positions – from legalization of marijuana to criminal justice reform and minority outreach, seemed to be the sort of topics which would garner most youth vote.
However, he continued to fall short even in terms of Youth Support. On Sunday, Paul said he expected 10,000 college students in Iowa to emerge and caucus for him, but ended up with a final total of just 8,481 votes. And though his support, while narrow, was among the most stalwart of any Republican candidate in the 2016 race, mitigating factors, and failure to grasp voters’ imaginations, proved too strong for Paul to continue.
Paul raised just $2.1 million in the fourth quarter, and had little expectation of a strong showing in New Hampshire’s primaries next week, where he has polled in the low single digits and languished with other also-ran candidates. By contrast, front-runner Donald Trump is polling at 38 percent, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz chasing him at 14 percent.
His decision to drop out was also certainly motivated by the presence of a challenger for his Senate seat.
Last summer, Paul convinced the Kentucky Republican Party to swap out its presidential primary for a caucus so he could circumvent the state rules that prohibit a candidate from appearing on the ballot for two separate offices.
Although the party acquiesced, swayed by Paul’s willingness to put up the funds through his campaign to make the switch, his poor performance in polls had local leaders grumbling about his priorities, concerned his lackluster presidential campaign could cost Republicans an otherwise safe seat.
The pressure only increased after last week, when the popular, openly gay Democratic mayor of Lexington, Jim Gray, announced he would run for Senate.
Paul joins former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on the GOP sidelines; Huckabee, who was a strong contender for the 2008 Republican nomination, dropped out of the race on Tuesday.
Summarised from: US News