Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, waves to the audience after addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday Nov. 13, 2015.

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, waves to the audience after addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday Nov. 13, 2015. John Raoux/AP

Exit Lindsey Graham, Veteran and NatSec Pro

The South Carolina senator and former JAG officer struggled to gain trac­tion throughout the race, even as his sig­na­ture is­sue took cen­ter stage in re­cent weeks.

Correction: An earlier headline said Graham was the last military veteran in the 2016 presidential race; Jim Gilmore is.

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. 

See also: ‘After Paris,’ Graham and McCain See a Whole New 2016 Race and On the Campaign Trail in New Hampshire with ‘Two Amigos’ Lindsey Graham and John McCain

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. 

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