COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Republican Sen. Rand Paul dropped his 2016 campaign for president Wednesday, eclipsed by other candidates who kept his base of support from growing into a viable force in the crowded 2016 field.
Campaign spokeswoman Eleanor May confirmed the move to The Associated Press, saying a statement would be forthcoming.
It was an end long in the making. Paul launched his presidential candidacy determined to improve the Republican party’s appeal with younger voters and to upend the way Washington works. But Paul and his appeals to reject American political dynasties and “to take our country back” was ultimately out-shouted by billionaire Donald Trump. Pledging to “make American great again,” Trump, his insults and vague policy positions captured the attention of angry, change-seeking Americans.
Paul’s campaign initially seemed to capture the anti-establishment mood clearly settling over the electorate.
Though he’s a senator — and the son of former Rep. Ron Paul — Rand Paul is no Washington insider. He was elected in the tea party-driven wave of 2010 and tangled often with GOP leaders.
In one defiant episode, Paul controlled the Senate floor in 2013 for almost 13 hours to hold up the nomination of John Brennan as CIA director. Brennan had been President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser, and Paul opposed the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists. He drew support from people across the political spectrum who shared a concern about government reach, making it seem possible to cobble together a diverse coalition big enough to compete in the race for president.
But soon after announcing his candidacy, Paul began a series of stumbles that turned into displays of his thin-skinned personality — and raised questions about his credibility as a doctor.