Rand Paul Suspends Presidential Campaign

Rev. Robert Johnson talks to Paul, R-Ky. at a campaign stop at Platinum Kutz barber shop in Des Moines ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he will suspend his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, opting to focus instead on his on his re-election effort this year.

The announcement came two days after the libertarian-leaning senator finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses with just 4.5 percent of the vote, well behind the two other senators in the race who have gained much more traction, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. 

Paul – once viewed as a top contender for the office as a younger version of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, with wider appeal – had not received double-digits in the polls since May 2014. Ahead of next week's New Hampshire primary, Paul trailed most of his rivals.

"Although today I will suspend my campaign for president, the fight is far from over," Paul said in a statement. "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."

Just last week, Paul received a challenger for re-election in Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, a wealthy Democrat. Though Kentucky is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call, Democrats there were hoping to capitalize on Paul's absence from the state to pursue his presidential ambitions and to benefit from talk, at least by Republicans there, that Paul might struggle to gain traction in the Kentucky presidential caucus he demanded.

Contact Yokley at EliYokley@RollCall.com and on Twitter @EYokley

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