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Exit stage right.
FREEDOM TO LEAVE

Libertarian Rand Paul is dropping out of the race for the White House

By Jake Flanagin

Senator Rand Paul will suspend his campaign for US president, ending hopes that a libertarian could stake a major claim on the Republican party’s voter coalition.

Paul, the son of three-time libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, is expected to announce his decision later today, CNN reports, just two days after finishing fifth in Iowa’s Republican caucus. He is currently polling in ninth place ahead of the New Hampshire primary election on February 9.

The senator spoke with staff on Wednesday morning and sent out a statement confirming his decision to suspend the campaign.

“It’s been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign for the White House,” Paul said in the statement. “Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of Liberty.”

Paul, like his father, is a figurehead for libertarian-minded Republicans, and this was his first run at a presidential nomination. CNN reports that he is likely to seek out another term as one of Kentucky’s senators; his first term ends this year.

Paul’s campaign never took off in a year where Donald Trump’s bombastic rhetoric overwhelmed any debate on the issues. In the most recent GOP debate without Trump present, Paul played a larger role, making his case for ideas that fit within the his party’s coalition—cuts to taxes, spending and business regulations—and those that don’t—cuts to the defense budget, an end to warrantless wiretapping, and a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But this gasp of media oxygen proved too little, too late.

His exit is a significant development ahead of the next primary in New Hampshire. The state is home to a sizable number of libertarian Republican voters, though which of the remaining Republican candidates Paul’s supporters may flock to remains to be seen.

Paul joins former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee as the second Republican to drop out of the race.