IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why Do Candidates 'Suspend' Campaigns When They Drop Out?

Like so many other things in presidential politics, it has to do with money.
Image: Marco Rubio
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio hugs his family at a Republican primary night celebration rally at Florida International University in Miami on March 15, 2016. Rubio is ending his campaign for the Republican nomination for president after a humiliating loss in his home state of Florida. Paul Sancya / AP

Politics ain't bean bag, and not everyone can be a winner. But when candidates end their presidential bids, they usually don't use words like "drop out" or "exit."

Instead, they "suspend."

So why "suspend" when a candidate is definitely down for the count?

Like so many other things in presidential politics, it has to do with money.

Running for president is an expensive proposition, so a lot of candidates end up in debt. And a candidate can't just walk away from that debt after their presidential hopes lose their shine.

The Federal Election Commission, in fact, doesn't consider a campaign completely over until its debts are paid off, loans are settled and its cash has been transferred into other accounts.

Saying a campaign is "suspended" rather than ended can be a signal to donors to keep their contributions coming while the campaign digs itself out of the red and winds down.

Another reason to suspend? Theoretically, a suspended campaign could spring back to life if the political landscape changes dramatically.

But that's rare - it hasn't happened in decades - so if candidates are holding out hope to see their campaign come back from the dead, it's likely that the only thing they're suspending is their own disbelief.