Paul’s decision comes two days after he finished fifth in the Iowa GOP caucus
LOUISVILLE (CFP) — U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has ended his quest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and will now concentrate on winning a second term in the Senate.
“Today, I end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of liberty,” Paul said in a statement announcing his departure. “Brushfires of liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”
Paul’s decision came just two days after he finished in fifth place in the Iowa presidential caucus, winning just 4.5 percent of the vote. He will now turn to his re-election race in Kentucky, which he was pursuing simultaneously with his presidential bid.
Paul, 53, ran a campaign appealing to the GOP’s libertarian wing, differing from many of his competitors by calling for less international intervention and opposing counterterrorism surveillance programs that he believed threatened civil liberties.
Considered a potential frontrunner early in the campaign, Paul’s campaign failed to catch fire and became mired in single digits in national polls.
The Kentucky GOP changed its presidential nominating contest to a caucus to facilitate Paul’s political double-dipping. But he had been under increasing pressure from within his party to abandon his floundering White House quest and focus on the Senate race, which intensified after he drew a high-profile Democratic challenger, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Paul, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, won election to the Senate in 2010 with Tea Party support. He is the son of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who made three unsuccessful tries for the White House.
Paul’s departure leaves three Southern Republicans in the presidential race — U.S. senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,