Senator Lindsey Graham exited the Republican presidential race on Monday saying he had hit a wall, leaving 13 candidates still battling out for the party nomination.
Graham, a national security hawk, is the fourth candidate to drop out after Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, the first Indian-American to ever run for White House.
“I was hoping not to have to make this call, but I think the time has come for me to suspend my campaign,” Graham said in a conference call with supporters.
“We’ve come to a point now where I just don’t see how we grow the campaign without getting on the main stage,” he added. “One of the biggest problems we’ve had was to get our voice on equal footing with others. This second-tier debate process has been difficult for us. I think we’ve done well in the debates, it’s just hard to break through because the buzz doesn’t last very long.”
Graham had impressed pundits and experts with his grasp on national security issues — he had pushed for more aggressive US engagement in Syria — and his wit.
He took on Donald Trump early in the race calling him a “jackass” which made the front-runner respond by giving away the senator’s mobile number at an election rally.
But Graham continued to poll low, and was confined to the undercard debates that prevented him from hitting the big league, which he complained about it in the call.
More drop-outs are likely, specially of those with plummeting poll numbers such as Mike Huckabee and those who just didn’t take off such as Rick Santorum and George Pataki.
There have been two exits from the Democratic side too — Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, leaving only three in the fray, which is much smaller compared to the Republicans’.