WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced Friday that he's dropping out of the presidential race, after he became the only remaining Republican candidate who didn't qualify for Saturday's GOP debate.
"My campaign was intended to offer the gubernatorial experience, with the track record of a true conservative, experienced in national security, to unite the party," Gilmore told The Washington Examiner on Friday. "My goal was to focus on the importance of this election as a real turning point, and to emphasize the dangers of continuing on a road that will further undermine America's economy and weaken our national security.
"Nonetheless, I will continue to express my concerns about the dangers of electing someone who has pledged to continue Obama's disastrous policies. And I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that our next president is a free enterprise Republican who will restore our nation to greatness and keep our citizens safe."
Gilmore's departure is surprising mainly due to how long he lasted in the GOP race. He outlasted other low-polling candidates -- who still polled higher than he -- like former New York Gov. George Pataki, Wisconson Gov. Scott Walker, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina.
Saturday's debate in Greenville, S.C., would have been the seventh that Gilmore didn't qualify for, as he consistently polled at less than one percent. In Iowa and New Hampshire, he received zero percent of the vote.
Following the departures of Graham and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb on the Democratic side, Gilmore was the last armed forces veteran still in the race.