Former New York Gov. George Pataki announced he is ending his 2016 presidential campaign in a message to GOP voters that aired on NBC News affiliates in the early primary states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.
"While tonight is the end of my journey for the White House as I suspend my campaign for president, I am confident we can elect the right person," Pataki said. "Someone who will bring us together and who understands that politicians, including the president, must be the people's servant and not their master."
Pataki recounted his record as governor and invoked his experiences on 9/11, saying "if we're truly going to make America great again, we need to elect a president who will do three things — confront and defeat radical Islam, shrink the size and power of Washington and unite us again in our belief in this great country."
Pataki informed some supporters directly about his decision earlier in the day. Ben Gamache, a New Hampshire Realtor who was on Pataki's steering committee in the state, said that he received a call Tuesday from the former governor, who told him he planned to end his campaign.
"He thanked me for my friendship, my support, he said we're gonna work together as a Republican Party and we're gonna get the best man in office and he doesn't want to stand in the way of that," Gamache said.
Another member of Pataki's steering committee, Bruce Breton, also told NBC News that he spoke with Pataki by phone about his decision to end his presidential bid.
Breton tweeted Tuesday: "I think I'm a free agent now."
Pataki failed to gain any significant traction in public polls, only rarely topping one percent measured support since getting into the race.
He participated in several network undercard debates but lacked the support to qualify for the prime-time stage in any of the race's five debates to date. He also failed to make the primary ballot in key states like Ohio and Texas.
The former New York governor used his undercard appearances to take aim at Donald Trump. In September, he called Trump "unfit to be the president of the United States or the Republican nominee."
In the latest fundraising quarter, Pataki only raised about $153,000, including a significant loan from the candidate himself.