George Pataki drops out of race to be 2016 Republican presidential candidate

Former New York Gov. George Pataki has exited the race to be the Republican presidential candidate.

In a message to GOP voters that aired on NBC News affiliates in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina - all early primary states - Pataki said that "tonight is the end of my journey for the White House, as I suspend my campaign for president," adding that he believed the party could still elect the right person.

"Someone who will bring us together and who understands that politicians, including the president, must be the people's servant and not their master," he said.

Earlier, Ben Gamache, a New Hampshire realtor who was on Pataki's steering committee in the state, had told NBC News that he received a call from the former governor, who told him he planned to end his campaign.

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.

Pataki has struggled amid a crowded field. He was averaging less than 1 percent of support among likely Republican voters in recent national polls. That was the same story in the key early primary state of New Hampshire, but he occasionally managed to log 1 percent in Iowa polls.

Either way, the former governor was barely registering among the electorate — as businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz lead the pack.

Pataki had regularly made the "undercard" stage in 2015's Republican debates. At the CNN debate earlier this month, Pataki recalled his experiences as governor of New York during the September 11th terrorist attacks.

"Give us the chance to unite Americans, not just Republicans. And this country's future is unlimited," he said, according to a transcript of the event.