Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Wednesday that he is suspending his presidential campaign, bringing an end to a bid that began with aspirations of expanding the libertarian base that his father, Ron Paul, built into a powerful national coalition.
But the low-key, philosopher-quoting opthamologist struggled to get attention in a year dominated by hard-line outsiders such as Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, and his non-interventionist views on foreign policy were not embraced by Republicans as terror and unrest raged abroad.
“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.”
Paul, a first-time candidate for national office, also found it difficult to convince the supporters of his father – a former Texas congressman who ran for president in 2008 and 2012 – to back him with enthusiasm. Though popular with libertarians, purists in that wing of the conservative movement questioned whether Paul was too mainstream.
Paul, 53, was elected to the Senate in 2010 as part of the GOP’s tea party wave. He will return to his work in the chamber and to his Senate re-election campaign, where he remains a top target for Democrats as they try to retake the majority this year.
According to top campaign aides, who confirmed Paul’s decision to suspend his campaign, the candidate made the decision to drop out following a disappointing finish in Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where his father had placed a strong third in 2012.