The Republicans presidential field is shrinking. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has become the fourth presidential candidate to suspend his campaign leaving 13 major candidates left in the field. Graham announced his withdrawal from the 2016 presidential race in an email to supporters and a video on his website on Monday morning, Dec. 21, 2015. Sen. Graham declared his candidacy on June 1.
In the YouTube video posted on his campaign website, Graham, 60 announced, “Today, I’m suspending my campaign for president. I want to thank everyone who has taken this journey with me. You have honored me with your support.”
For the last time as a candidate, Graham brought his message about national security and foreign policy to the forefront. Graham expressed, “I am far more confident today that our party will reject the Obama doctrine of leading from behind and will provide the strong leadership America needs to restore our military, take the fight to our enemies and do what it takes to make our country safe and preserve our way of life.”
Graham continued touting the reasons he ran in the first place including his ability to negotiate with Democrats in the Senate. Graham said, “This has been a problem solver’s campaign. However the centerpiece of my campaign has been securing our nation. I got into this race to put forward a plan to win a war we cannot afford to lose and to turn back the tide of isolationism that was rising in our party. I believe we have made enormous progress in this effort.”
The third term South Carolina promised to remain involved in others for the election and the issues important to him, “This is a generational struggle that demands a strategy and the will to win. I will continue to work every day to ensure that our party — and our nation — takes on this fight. I’m suspending my campaign, but never my commitment to achieving security through strength for the American people.”
Graham’s announcement comes less than a week after CNN Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas on Dec. 15, where he was seen as the winner of the undercard debate. Although Graham is well known in South Carolina he failed to garner the national support needed for a successful campaign.
The senator has less than one percent support in the polls, and he never was able to participate in the main debates, which hindered his campaign. Graham failed to make even the undercard debate in hosted by Fox Business in November. The South Carolina senator was lively in the debates and he would have benefitted from being on the main stage.
Graham’s campaign was focusing on the key New Hampshire primary; however, Monday was the deadline to be on the ballot in his native South Carolina. Graham wanted to spare himself an embarrassing showing and possibly ruin his effectiveness as a senator. Graham gave an exclusive interview to CNN denying the ballot deadline affected his decision saying bluntly, “At the end of the day, I’m not going to be competitive in my state. I’m not going to be competitive outside my state.”
Graham could still affect his home state primary with an endorsement of another candidate something he is holding back on. Considering the statements from his former competitors, they are jockeying for his endorsement and those of his supporters. All the GOP candidates with the exception of Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul commented on Graham’s departure. Graham intends to endorse the candidate he thinks will be the best “Commander-in-Chief and can also win.”
The South Carolina senator is doing some lobbying himself, looking for a cabinet post in a Republican administration, preferably Secretary of Defense. In light of that new goal, Graham went softer on frontrunner Donald Trump. Graham gave Trump some advice in his CNN interview reminding him, “We’re at war. A lot of men and women are at risk overseas. Watch what you say over here. You may wind up being the nominee of the Republican Party. The Republican Party’s future may be in your hands. The future of the country will be in your hands if you’re President of the United States. This is not a game show. This is not a reality show.”
Graham told CNN he regrets some of the directions he campaign took, but said, “I have no regrets about running for President. It has been the joy of my life to run for President of the United States.” Graham now joins four other candidates that suspended their campaigns, former Texas Governor Rick Perry who withdrew on Sept. 11, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who withdrew Sept. 21, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who withdrew on Nov. 17.