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Lindsey Graham Drops Out of GOP Nomination Race After Hitting Wall

The South Carolina senator announced he was suspending his campaign after failing to gain even one percent of the Republican primary vote in national polls.
December 21, 2015, 3:30pm
Photo by Erik Kabik Photography/MediaPunch/AP

Just a day after Senator Lindsey Graham said he would compromise with the GOP's arch nemesis and prospective Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on foreign policy if she were to win the White House in 2016, the Republican presidential candidate suspended his own campaign for his party's nomination.

"I was hoping not to have to make this call, but I think the time has come for me to suspend my campaign," Graham told supporters during a conference call Monday.


Earlier in the morning, the senator had told CNN he was ending his campaign out of a "desire to help the country," adding, "I've hit a wall here."

Graham has barely registered in Republican polls since announcing his candidacy for the nomination in June this year. Before the announcement, his RealClearPolitics national polling average was only .5 percent. As a result, the South Carolina senator failed to break it onto the main stage during debates, instead being relegated to the undercard forums. He even failed to score a podium at one of Fox-hosted second-string debate in November.

"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 told supporters. "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."

Monday also marked the last day for the senator to remove his name from the ballot in the key primary state of South Carolina, and the announcement could save Graham an embarrassing loss on his home turf.

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On Sunday, Graham told TIME on the sidelines of a town hall in New Hampshire that he would try to work with Clinton and provide her with "political cover" in the fight against the Islamic State, if she won the election.

"If she's willing to be more robust in terms of destroying ISIL, I'd give her political cover," he said. "If she wanted to be more muscular in her foreign policy, I would try to help her."

On Monday, the senator reiterated that message while plugging his own plan to battle IS.

"The fight continues. To those who are doing the fighting, I want to be your voice. To those in the Republican Party who want to win, check my plan out," he told CNN. "Hillary, if you get to be President, I'll help you where I can. I hope you're not. But if you are, I'll be there to help you win a war we can't afford to lose."