After dropping out of the 2016 presidential race Wednesday, Rand Paul’s campaign declared that he will endorse the chosen GOP nominee, but he will not endorse any of his former rivals while they are still in the running.
During a conference call with reporters following Paul’s announcement, his top campaign strategist Doug Stafford said that the Senator from Kentucky made the decision to drop out in part because he was likely to be excluded from the next GOP debate Saturday night.
In the Iowa Caucus on Monday, Paul came in fifth place with one delegate, behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with eight delegates, Donald Trump with seven, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also with seven, and Ben Carson with three.
Stafford said Paul has no plans to endorse any of his former competitors before one is chosen to be the GOP nominee. While former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made a similar decision when he ended his presidential campaign following Monday’s caucus, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum announced that he was endorsing Rubio when he ended his campaign Wednesday evening.
Paul announced Wednesday morning that he intends to focus on running for re-election as a Senator in Kentucky. “Although, today I will suspend my campaign for President, the fight is far from over,” he said. “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.”
While Paul had initially counted on receiving the support of those who backed his father Ron Paul in the 2008 and 2012 elections, Stafford said that the “Ron Paul movement” still exists, but that “voters shift from time and what’s most important to them is hard to capture.”
Stafford also noted that having Trump in the race changed the dynamic because it “took all the oxygen out of the room,” and made it “very difficult to have what you believe is a stronger message and a stronger candidate but you can’t break through because celebrity became the largest thing.”
For more election coverage, click here.