Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky ended his presidential campaign Wednesday, after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses this week.
“Today, I will end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of liberty,” Mr. Paul said in a statement. “Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brush fires of liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”
Mr. Paul, 53, a Republican senator from Kentucky and ophthalmologist, finished the Iowa caucuses with 4.5 percent of the vote, a discouraging finish for someone who, just a year earlier, had seemed poised to make a real run at the White House.
Though sometimes irascible, Mr. Paul seemed to offer an inclusive vision for the Republican Party, working across the aisle on issues like criminal justice reform and visiting places typically not trafficked by Republicans — urban centers, liberal-leaning college campuses — to make his pitch. He also inherited the libertarian streak of his father, the former congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for president a number of times, including in 2008 and 2012.
But some of Rand Paul’s crucial issues as a senator, like using the filibuster to protest the government’s use of lethal drone strikes in 2013 and again last year, in opposition to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, failed to animate donors and voters as he had expected. Especially after the Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., terror attacks, the Republican Party seemed eager for someone with stronger national security credentials, and a less isolationist view of America’s role in the world.
Mr. Paul also lacked the robust ground organization that his father had, which helped the elder Paul perform well in states with caucuses instead of primaries.
While his presidential hopes are now over, he remains up for re-election in the Senate. The Republican Party in Kentucky changed the rules, creating a caucus in the state rather than a primary, which allowed Mr. Paul to run for both president and senator at the same time without violating a state law that prevents candidates from appearing on the ballot twice in the same election.