Graham waves after addressing a summit in Orlando, Fla., in November.

Graham waves after addressing a summit in Orlando, Fla., in November. John Raoux / AP

Graham Drops Out of Presidential Race

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

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 South Car­o­lina sen­at­or 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 joined former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er and Louisi­ana Gov. Bobby Jin­dal as the fourth Re­pub­lic­an to exit the race for the White House this year. An­oth­er 13 can­did­ates are still seek­ing the party’s nom­in­a­tion in 2016. 

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." 

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 Gra­ham’s an­nounce­ment.

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