Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has dropped his presidential bid.
After finishing with just 5 percent of the support in the Iowa Caucus on Monday, Paul was running out of cash, and time, to mount a successful effort to win the nomination. His father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, finished in third with 20 percent of the votes in the 2012 caucus.
Instead, Rand Paul will focus his attention on winning reelection in the Senate, where he has made a name for himself as the libertarian-Republican who fits for policies instead of party positions.
“Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I,” Paul said in a statement announcing his campaign shift to the Senate.
Steve Munisteri, a Paul adviser, told POLITICO that he spoke with the senator after the poor Iowa showing to discuss continuing the campaign. that the senator called him after the Iowa caucuses to ask his thoughts on continuing the campaign.
“The going endgoal was if we got a top five we would go on. Then Rand reflected on it and he called to get my advice and my advice was that he not go on,” Munisteri said.
The Kentucky senator spoke with his senior staff Tuesday and by Tuesday night the rest of the staff were informed. The campaign was told by conference call Wednesday morning, according to a campaign staffer. In the call, Paul reiterated his committment to fight for smaller government, the Fourth Amendment (prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures) and for “liberty.”
While hoping to use his blend of conservatism and libertarianism to outperform his dad’s runs for the White House, Paul struggled to build a following with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz dominating the race. His polling plummeted throughout the summer and autumn months, as did his position in the debates. At one debate, Trump called Paul out for not belonging on the main stage, which is what happened to him in the second Fox Business News debate. When he did return to the main stage, Trump was absent and many pundits thought it was the senator’s best performance.
Unable to capitalize on the fundraising prowess his father possessed as a strict libertarian, Paul had issues raising the kind of money needed to compete against some of his opponents. His year-end report for 2015 showed just $1.27 million in the bank and $250,000 owed to vendors. His Super PAC, which can legally campaign in the Kentucky Senate race, still has just over $4 million on hand, giving Paul a good standing to mount a competitive challenge to any Democrat who may run.
He now plans to turn his attention to his Kentucky Senate race.
“Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over” his statement said. “I will continue to carry the torch for Liberty in the United States Senate and I look forward to earning the privilege to represent the people of Kentucky for another term.”
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a Democrat, announced he was running for the Senate seat and last week national party leaders started pressuring the senator to focus on his home state in order to keep from spending money there instead of places where the Republican incumbent is facing strong opposition; such as Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio.
Paul’s dropping out, like Mike Huckabee on Monday night and a number of candidates prior to the caucus, will likely have little impact on the overall race. His numbers have been too low to have an impact on New Hampshire and other primaries.