Yet another Republican presidential candidate has belatedly read the writing on the wall. Rand Paul, who had hopes of building on his father’s successes in Iowa only to finish in low single digits in Monday’s caucuses, has decided to end his presidential campaign before New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday:
BREAKING: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he is ending his bid for the Republican nomination for president.
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 3, 2016
Paul’s campaign sent out a statement to the press:
“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House. Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.
Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.
Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over. 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.”
The Associated Press reports that Paul will now devote all of his attention to his Senate race in Kentucky:
Paul was determined to improve the GOP’s popularity among younger voters and minorities. But his message failed to catch on and his appeal never broadened beyond the small group of libertarian-leaning Republicans that backed the previous White House bids of his father, Ron Paul.
He is now expected to turn his full attention to his Senate re-election campaign in Kentucky. The 52-year-old ophthalmologist is favored to win that race.
Well, he will be now, since he can focus completely on that race rather than spending most of his spare time outside of Kentucky. Republicans need Paul to hold that seat; they have many more seats at risk in this cycle than Democrats. Losing the Kentucky seat would be a blow to GOP hopes of retaining control of the Senate, and most importantly, of the judicial confirmation process.
Where will Paul’s support go in the presidential race? There was precious little of it, which is why Paul’s getting out, but Ted Cruz will be the most likely beneficiary. He comes across as less hawkish than Marco Rubio, and less authoritarian than Donald Trump. In a cycle where ISIS and Iran have become the focus of national-security concerns, the libertarian segment found little purchase, and Cruz may be the closest of a distant pack of Republicans to their cause.