There was an inevitability to Lindsey Graham's decision.

The Republican presidential hopeful has been polling nationally at around one percent and not much better in his home state of South Carolina.

He gave a number of impressive and forceful performances in the Republican "undercard" debates, the one reserved for second-tier candidates.

And yet nothing changed the race for the senator from South Carolina. He never made the big stage.

Long shot

Faced with being hammered in his own state in the third nominating contest in February, he decided to step down.

His candidacy was always a long shot - and his departure may force others to look at their own efforts and gauge if they have any chance for the nomination.

Graham, who has strongly pushed for US ground troops to be used in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, said he made the Republican party more "hawkish".

While President Obama disagreed with the idea, he respected Graham for taking a clear position telling National Public Radio he is "one of the few who has at least been honest about suggesting, here is something I would do that the president is not doing. He doesn't just talk about being louder or sounding tougher in the process".

Graham also stood out from the Republican field because of his position in acknowledging climate change as a serious issue and suggesting he'd be happy to work with Democrats to find solutions to problems such as the US budget.

He has been involved in a number of verbal battles with the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

In July, after he called the businessman "a jackass", Trump responded by giving out the senator's phone number at a rally. He had to get a new number.

Responding to Trump's suggestion that the US should ban all Muslims from entering the country, Graham urged his party to tell the businessman to "go to hell".

No endorsement

Announcing his decision to quit, Graham claimed victory.

He said in a video message to supporters: "The centrepiece of my campaign has been securing our nation. I got into the race to put forward a plan to win a war we cannot afford to lose and turn back the tide of isolationism that was rising in our party. I believe we have made enormous progress in this effort."


READ MORE: What they did not say at Republican debate on security


Yet, given his lack of support, he perhaps overestimates the influence he has had despite being a respected figure in the party on foreign and military affairs.

He leaves without giving an endorsement.

That is a wise move. Should a Republican make the White House, he is a strong tip for secretary of defence.

And, as many Graham supporters have discovered, there's no point in backing the wrong candidate now. 

Source: Al Jazeera