Politics & Government

Brownback to quit presidential race

WASHINGTON — His campaign trailing badly in money and in the polls, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas plans to drop out of the Republican presidential race Friday, several close allies said.

He plans to hold a press conference Friday in Topeka, the Kansas state capital. His withdrawal will come just days after a disappointing third-quarter report on his campaign's finances. Since July, Brownback raised less than $1 million.

A CNN poll this week gave him 1 percent of the national Republican vote.

"There's no question that Senator Brownback worked hard to get his message out, but it just proved too difficult a field for him to achieve a breakthrough," said Republican pollster Neil Newhouse.

The three-term senator struggled on other fronts as well. A staunch conservative on most social issues, his moderate approach to solving the immigration problem put him at odds with most Republican primary voters, who favor a much tougher approach.

Some conservatives accused him of flip-flopping on the issue after he changed his vote on an immigration-related vote last June.

"Nobody wants uncertainty in their elected officials," said Scott Schwab, a county GOP chairman in Kansas. "I think that hurt him."

Brownback also wasn't an electrifying campaigner, especially in comparison to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who challenged Brownback for the social conservative vote.

"Literally I had people saying to me who were strong Brownback supporters that Huckabee is the most charismatic guy in the field," said Brownback friend and Iowa ally Chuck Hurley.

Brownback's campaign flameout was a death foretold back in August when he finished third behind Huckabee in the Iowa straw poll, an early weeding-out test of the Republican primary field.

Though Huckabee, at that point best known for shedding more than 100 pounds, edged him by only a point, he drew all the attention for his surprising strength.

It was a bitter setback for Brownback, who'd hoped to reap rewards for months of grassroots politicking in the crucial state, where Republicans will vote Jan. 3, the first presidential balloting in the nation.

"It has prevented Brownback from growing his support," said David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a conservative economic group.

(Goldstein reported from Washington. Kraske, of The Kansas City Star, reported from Kansas City, Mo.)