Graham Drops Out of Presidential Race

"I have concluded this is not my time," Graham told supporters.

Sen. Lindsey Graham addresses the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Florida on Nov. 13. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Lind­sey Gra­ham has sus­pen­ded his long-shot bid for the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion.

“While we have run a cam­paign that has made a real dif­fer­en­ce, I have con­cluded this is not my time,” the sen­at­or from South Car­o­lina said in a video mes­sage emailed to supporters Monday morn­ing.

Gra­ham struggled to gain trac­tion throughout the race, even as his sig­na­ture is­sue, for­eign policy, took cen­ter stage in re­cent weeks. But in the video, Gra­ham signaled that he will still be out­spoken on na­tion­al se­cur­ity is­sues dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

“I will con­tin­ue to work every day to en­sure our party, and our na­tion, takes on this fight,” Gra­ham said. “I’m sus­pend­ing my cam­paign, but nev­er my com­mit­ment to achiev­ing secur­ity through strength for the Amer­ic­an people.”

Gra­ham failed to qual­i­fy for the main stage in any of the five Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial de­bates, and even missed the cut for the un­der­card event dur­ing the Novem­ber de­bate in Milwau­kee.

Gra­ham is the fourth Re­pub­lic­an to exit the race for the White House this year, joining former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er, and Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal. An­oth­er 13 can­did­ates are still seek­ing the party’s nom­in­a­tion.

While Gra­ham’s home state of South Car­o­lina is the third state to vote in the GOP nom­in­at­ing pro­cess, the sen­at­or fo­cused the bulk of his ef­forts on the first-in-the-na­tion primary state of New Hamp­shire. Gra­ham spent 67 days cam­paign­ing there since the be­gin­ning of the year, the most of any can­did­ate from either party, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled in Nation­al Journ­al's Travel Track­er.

On sev­er­al oc­ca­sions, Gra­ham cam­paigned in New Hamp­shire with his good friend John Mc­Cain, whose sup­port is now up for grabs.

“With Sen­at­or Lind­sey Gra­ham’s an­nounce­ment, Re­pub­lic­ans lost our most qual­i­fied, thought­ful, fear­less, and hon­est pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate, not to men­tion the can­did­ate with the best (and it seemed some­times the only) sense of hu­mor,” said Mc­Cain, the 2008 Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee, in a state­ment. “Des­pite the dis­ad­vant­ages he faced in re­sources and de­bate op­por­tun­it­ies, Lind­sey’s mes­sage of ser­i­ous states­man­ship and prob­lem-solv­ing in pub­lic af­fairs, his forth­right op­pos­i­tion to policies and at­ti­tudes that would en­danger our coun­try and re­flect poorly on our party, and his genu­ine de­cency and hu­mil­ity won him many new ad­mirers.”

As for Gra­ham, he told CNN that he has “no in­ten­tion of en­dors­ing any­one right now.”

Gra­ham faced a crit­ic­al dead­line in South Car­o­lina. In or­der to re­move his name from the state’s Feb. 20 primary bal­lot, he had to drop out of the race by today. Even though Graham didn’t garner much sup­port in the polls in his home state, his de­par­ture from the race will free up some of South Car­o­lina’s top Re­pub­lic­an of­fi­cials, op­er­at­ives, and donors to side with an­oth­er can­did­ate in the im­port­ant early-primary state.

Jeb Bush and John Kasich, two of Gra­ham’s Re­pub­lic­an op­pon­ents, were among the first to weigh in on the an­nounce­ment on Twit­ter.

“Nobody is more clear-eyed about IS­IS than my friend @Gra­hamB­log As he leaves the race I hope our party & coun­try listen to his coun­sel,” Bush tweeted.

“En­joyed Sen. @Lind­sey­Gra­ham­SC’s wit & re­spect his ser­i­ous­ness on nat’l se­cur­ity—ex­per­i­en­ce mat­ters. Best wishes to him,” Kasich fol­lowed up.