Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suspended his presidential campaign this morning, vowing to focus on his re-election campaign to Congress instead.
Paul finished in fifth place in Monday’s Iowa caucuses with 4.5 percent of the vote.
Heading into New Hampshire on Tuesday, Paul was registering anywhere from 2 to 5 percent in that state’s polls.
“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,” Paul said in a statement released by his campaign.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
Paul got a challenger for his Senate seat last week: Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, an openly gay Democrat and former construction company CEO who filed to run against the incumbent just before the election deadline.
“Senator Paul confuses talking with getting results,” Gray said in a video announcing his Senate run. “He offers ideas that will weaken our country at home and abroad. And he puts himself and his own ambitions above Kentucky.”
The dropout from the race for commander in chief leaves Paul’s one Senate endorsement — fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell (R) — free to endorse someone else for president.
But on Tuesday he chided a reporter for asking him about the Iowa caucus results. “I think every week you try to haul me into the presidential campaign,” McConnell said. “We’re intent on, at least I am, on trying to stay out of the presidential campaign.”
Paul was quickly bid adieu on Twitter by former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who got 12 votes in the Iowa caucuses. “Dr. @randpaul ended his campaign to return to the Senate,” Gilmore tweeted. “I respect & share his commitment to smaller government & protecting our liberties.”