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El Paso’s Beto O’Rourke drops out of presidential race

Beto O'Rourke
Lakana file
Beto O'Rourke is seen on the campaign trail during his Senate run in this file photo.

EL PASO, Texas -- Former three-term El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke announced Friday afternoon that he is ending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

O'Rourke made his announcement via social media; many staffers at his campaign headquarters in downtown El Paso hadn't yet been told of his decision when the word went out.

"I am announcing that my service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee," he said in a tweet. You can read O'Rourke's tweets at the bottom of this article.

"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 a statement that accompanied his tweet. You can read that entire statement by clicking here.

He then addressed supporters Friday evening at a rally in Iowa, telling them he was particularly proud of the attention his campaign generated on the issue of gun violence in America.

O'Rourke told the crowd that he made the decision to exit the race "reluctantly" and vowed to stay active in the fight to defeat President Trump. You can watch his remarks in the video player below.

The 47-year-old O'Rourke's decision to drop out comes after polls showed him fairing poorly across much of the country. He also failed to achieve the type of fundraising success nationally that he demonstrated here in Texas, raising $80 million during his 2018 bid to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, whom he came within three percentage points of defeating.

The New York Times quoted aides as saying that O'Rourke had no plans to seek a Texas Senate seat again. Republican John Cornyn is up for re-election in 2020 and some in Democratic Party circles had encouraged O'Rourke to challenge him.

O'Rourke had entered the crowded Democratic presidential field to much fanfare back in March, garnering the front page of Vanity Fair magazine and drawing kudos from Oprah Winfrey.

After quickly pulling in $9.4 million during his first two weeks in the race, O’Rourke’s financial situation deteriorated. By the end of June, he was spending more than his campaign was taking in. By the end of September, he had just $3.2 million cash on hand while spending double that over the previous three months, according to campaign finance records reviewed by the Associated Press.

The remaining Democratic candidates late Friday afternoon wished O'Rourke well and thanked him for his spirited campaign effort.

One of the polling front runners, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, said O'Rourke's "commitment to ending gun violence and uplifting the voices of the victims and their families has made this presidential race—and our country—stronger."

"We are grateful for your leadership," added Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Thank you Beto O'Rourke for running a campaign to bring millions of people together, fight for justice for all and end gun violence in America."

Former Vice President Joe Biden noted that "in the wake of tragedy in his hometown, Beto O'Rourke responded with compassion and leadership, looking into the eyes of people who just lost loved ones and pledging his total resolve. His passion for solving our gun crisis has been inspiring to anyone who has seen him."

Added Sen. Kamala Harris of O'Rourke, "Your passion for your community and conviction to create a future free from gun violence have enriched this campaign and shown us the leader you are."

More gratitude came from Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He said, "running for office is an act of hope. I'm grateful to Beto O'Rouke for his leadership and for offering hope to Americans across our country. I know he will continue to fight for a safer and brighter future where all belong."

On the other side of the political aisle, President Trump reacted to O'Rourke's twitter announcement with a tweet of his own: "Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for president despite him saying he was “born for this.” I don’t think so!"

At a campaign rally in Mississippi Friday night, Trump took to mocking O'Rourke, saying he "came out of Texas a very hot political property, and he went back as cold as you can be. Hopefully, we won't be hearing about him for a long time."

O'Rourke was expected to remain in Iowa through the weekend before returning to El Paso, aides said.

Article Topic Follows: Campaign 2020

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the former Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.


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