WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul effectively ended his White House bid on Monday, saying he would no longer campaign actively in states that have yet to hold primary elections.
Instead, Paul's campaign will concentrate on trying to add to its tally of delegates to the Republican National Convention in August by sending large groups of supporters to state conventions to elect themselves to delegate slots.
"Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process. We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that liberty is the way of the future," Paul said in a statement emailed to supporters.
"Moving forward, however, we will no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not yet voted," he added. "Doing so with any hope of success would take many tens of millions of dollars we simply do not have."
Paul is the last main challenger to presumptive nominee Mitt Romney in the race to pick a Republican candidate to confront President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.
Paul has not won any state nominating contests. So far, he has only 99 delegates while Romney has 949, according to Real Clear Politics. A candidate needs 1,144 to win the nomination.
He urged his supporters to vote in upcoming elections, even though he would not actively campaign in the states that still must hold a nominating contest ahead of the party's convention before the election.
The 76-year-old Texan congressman's message of sharply reducing the role of government, scrapping the Federal Reserve and ending the U.S. military presence overseas is unique to him. Many of his supporters have said they would not vote at all on Election Day if Paul were not the nominee.
Paul's statement said his campaign would explain details of its delegate strategy "in the coming days."
Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said Paul's new plan will not change much in terms of campaigning since he was spending very little time on the campaign trail compared to candidates like Romney.
"Obviously he still wants to be a fly in the ointment, particularly for Romney, he just doesn't want to be running the negative ads," said O'Connell.
Even though Paul will not win the nomination, his ongoing efforts to secure more delegates to the convention will likely cause heartburn for the Romney campaign which wants to just consolidate Republican support.
"Romney is in a very tight battle with President Obama," said O'Connell. "He needs to have all hands on deck to beat Obama and everything has to go right - he really does not need to be looking over his shoulder at Ron Paul."
(Reporting by Deborah Charles; Editing by Anthony Boadle)