If Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is looking to further lower the once sky-high expectations surrounding his 2016 White House bid, he might just be succeeding.
In a Thursday night conference call with the roughly 350 members of the Kentucky GOP’s central committee, the Libertarian darling put his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination at “one in 10,” according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
That is a serious drop-off from the optimistic assessment Paul gave in March, weeks before he announced his entry into the race, when he put his odds at “one in five, one in six.”
The admission confirms what opinion polls and pundits have acknowledged for weeks: Paul’s candidacy is running on fumes.
The alarms started to sound earlier this month. Paul, mired in the middle of the crowded GOP field, hoped to use the first Republican presidential debate to reinvigorate his candidacy, mostly by attacking frontrunner Donald Trump, and springboard to the front of the line.
The Kentucky lawmaker went after the real estate mogul early and often during the two-hour event but failed to land a punch, though he did manage to mix it up with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over government surveillance efforts.
A CNN/ORC International poll released this week showed Paul still stuck in the middle of the pack, receiving just 6 percent support, a quarter of what Trump garnered, and three points behind political outsider Ben Carson.
Paul, an ophthalmologist, skipped the Iowa state fair, a rite of passage for any White House hopeful, to spend four days performing eye surgeries in Haiti.
The timing of his departure from the campaign trail is a curious one, as Paul will find out Saturday whether he succeeded in persuading his state’s party to hold a presidential caucus before its regularly scheduled primary in 2016.
The move would allow him to run for president and reelection to the Senate simultaneously. Kentucky law prohibits a candidate’s name from appearing on the same ballot twice.
The state GOP has voiced concerns about the price tag associated with holding a separate caucus, and while Paul has offered to foot the bill for the change, he has yet to make good on a promise to make an initial $250,000 payment to the party that would put the gears in motion.
Thursday night, Paul told committee members that “there was no need to transfer the money unless Kentucky’s Republicans don’t trust their junior senator.” He “raised some eyebrows” by suggesting a collection bag could be passed around during the caucuses to help pay for the events, according to the Herald-Leader.
While Paul is set to swing through his home-state on Friday and rally supporters on Saturday in the state capitol where the central committee is meeting, it’s unclear if the last-minute lobbying will persuade his fellow party members.
A decision not to hold a caucus would be a major blow to Paul, who would be forced, like his competitor Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), to choose between running for president or seeking reelection in 2016.
Rubio opted to forsake his Senate seat for his White House campaign.