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Suspended Campaign

When it’s time to leave a race for public office, candidates often announce their “suspended campaign” instead of actually dropping out.

Practically speaking, there is not a big difference and federal law does not define or officially recognize the act of a presidential candidate “suspending” their campaign instead of formally ending it.

As NBC News explains:

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.

CNN points out there are two important differences between suspending a campaign and dropping out: delegates and money:

Candidates who suspend their campaigns usually get to keep any delegates they’ve won and can continue to raise money beyond what’s needed to retire their campaign debts.

In contrast, candidates who actually drop out of a race, usually have to forfeit certain delegates and are limited in how they can raise future funds.

There’s one more reason to “suspend” a campaign: In theory, a suspended campaign could spring back to life if the political landscape changes dramatically.

Slate observes the phrase “has been employed at least as far back as the 1970s and continues to serve as the most popular way for candidates to end their primary bids without closing down their campaign committees.”

Use of “Suspended Campaign” in a sentence

  • Following a string of electoral defeats, the senator announced a suspended campaign, leaving the door open for a potential re-entry should political winds shift in his favor.
  • The phrase “suspended campaign” often serves as a softer way for candidates to bow out of a race while retaining the ability to raise funds and pay off campaign debt.
  • Amid unexpected personal circumstances, the mayoral candidate decided to suspend her campaign temporarily, creating a ripple of speculation about the stability of her political coalition.