November 18, 2019, 0:10

Beto O’Rourke ends 2020 presidential campaign

Beto O’Rourke ends 2020 presidential campaign

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, announced on Twitter that he’s dropping out of the 2020 presidential race.

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About an hour after informing his staff he was dropping out of the race, O’Rourke joined surprised supporters and volunteers stationed outside an arena in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was scheduled to speak at the Liberty & Justice Celebration Friday night. He spoke for about 15 minutes thanking those who he worked alongside during his campaign that began with high expectations and recently struggled to gain more than 2% in nationwide polls.

“Though this is the end of this campaign, we are right in the middle of this fight. I will do everything that I can to support the eventual nominee of this party with everything that I’ve got, and I encourage every single one of you to do the same,” he said.

O’Rourke urged his backers to support “whoever the nominee is” for the Democrats, and to not only “support them against Donald Trump and make sure that they’re successful in November of 2020, but also importantly, making sure that they help to bring together a very divided country in the face of the greatest set of challenges that we’ve ever known.”

Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images, FILE

Democratic presidential candidate, former Rep. Beto ORourke (D-TX) speaks to media and supporters during a campaign re-launch, Aug. 15, 2019, in El Paso, Texas.

The Democrat announced his candidacy in March, prompting media attention and polling numbers that put him among the then-front-runners and leading to an impressive first-day fundraising haul of $6.1 million.

But O’Rourke’s stock steadily declined in the following months, with lackluster debate performances, a steep drop in fundraising and a plunge in the polls — registering no more than 3% or 4% in some national and state polls. He eventually failed to secure two additional polls to qualify for the November debate, which will be hosted in Georgia by MSNBC and The Washington Post.

(MORE: Beto O’Rourke: Everything you need to know about the 2020 presidential candidate)

O’Rourke announced his White House bid just months after losing a closely watched 2018 midterm race in which he challenged Republican stalwart Sen. Ted Cruz, losing by just 3 percentage points. It was the closest race Texas had seen in recent decades. O’Rourke raised a record $38 million in one quarter of 2018, three times Cruz’s totals for the same period and the most raised in a U.S. Senate race in history.

Finding viral and documentary fame, O’Rourke traveled to all of Texas’ 254 counties, including ones not visited by Democrats in years. It was a strategy he later applied to his presidential bid following a racially motivated mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, that claimed the lives of 22 people.

via AP

Candidates still in the race for president in 2020.

(MORE: Beto O’Rourke in ‘Around the Table’ talks guns, racism and immigration with Texas voters)

When re-launching his presidential campaign in El Paso after a 12-day hiatus from the trail, O’Rourke said he’d propose a mandatory buy-back program for assault rifles. The proposal was criticized by a number of his Democratic opponents and became a common Republican talking point when defending gun rights.

(MORE: Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke calls out Trump, saying his language poses ‘mortal danger’)

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images, FILE

Democratic presidential candidate, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) speaks during a campaign rally, Oct. 17, 2019, in Grand Prairie, Texas.

While pushing the policy boundaries on topics like gun control, marijuana legalization and immigration, O’Rourke also faced scrutiny from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for not backing policies like “Medicare for All,” instead preferring Medicare for America, a policy that would keep private employee-based health care options.

(MORE: Beto O’Rourke in ‘Around the Table’ talks guns, racism and immigration with Texas voters)


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