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Beto O’Rourke ends 2020 US presidential bid

‘It is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully,’ he wrote in an online post.

Beto O’Rourke, who announced he is dropping his 2020 presidential bid (Tony Gutierrez/AP)
Beto O’Rourke, who announced he is dropping his 2020 presidential bid (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, has announced he is ending his Democratic US presidential campaign.

Addressing supporters in Iowa, Mr O’Rourke said that while his campaign was ending, he planned to stay active in the fight to defeat President Donald Trump.

“I will be part of this and so will you,” he said.

Mr O’Rourke was urged to run for president by many Democrats who were energised by his narrow Senate loss last year in Texas, a reliably Republican state.

He raised an astonishing amount of money from small donors across the country, visited every county in Texas and used social media and live-streaming video to engage directly with voters.

He ultimately lost to incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz by three percentage points.

But Mr O’Rourke, 47, struggled to replicate that model in the presidential primary, and both his polling and his fundraising dwindled significantly in recent months.

“Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully,” he wrote in an online post formally announcing the end of his campaign.

“Acknowledging this now is in the best interests of those in the campaign; it is in the best interests of this party as we seek to unify around a nominee; and it is in the best interests of the country.”

Mr O’Rourke’s decision comes as the Democratic primary enters a critical stretch.

With three months until the kick-off Iowa caucuses, polls consistently show a trio of candidates leading the way: former vice president Joe Biden, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, with Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, showing strength in Iowa, as well.

Mr O’Rourke entered the race in March as the feel-good, dynamic candidate who had the ability to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats and work across the aisle in Washington.

But he immediately faced criticism that he had a sense of entitlement, particularly after the release of a Vanity Fair interview on the eve of his campaign launch in which he appeared to say he was “born” to be in presidential politics.

He spent several weeks trying to build his campaign around climate change, calling global warming the greatest existential threat the country had ever faced.

But as the excitement over his candidacy began to fade, Mr O’Rourke was forced to stage a “reintroduction” of his campaign to reinvigorate it.

After a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso, killing 22 people, Mr O’Rourke more heavily embraced gun control, saying he would take assault weapons away from existing owners.

Mr O’Rourke did not endorse another Democrat for the nomination, saying the country will be well served by any of the other candidates, “and I’m going to be proud to support whoever that nominee is”.

US president Donald Trump quickly weighed in on Mr O’Rourke’s exit, saying in a tweet: “Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for President despite him saying he was “born for this.” I don’t think so!”

PA

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