Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday evening.
The decision comes one day after Buttigieg finished in fourth place in the South Carolina primary with just over 8% of the vote. Exit polls showed only 3% of Black voters, a key Democratic voting bloc, cast their ballots for the former mayor.
“Today is a moment of truth,” Buttigieg told a crowd of hometown supporters in South Bend on Sunday. “Our path has narrowed to a close … we have a responsibility to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further. Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.”
Buttigieg’s campaign said he was leaving the race to better help the effort to unseat President Donald Trump, noting that Buttigieg didn’t want to further splinter the vote by proceeding with his campaign.
The then-mayor formally announced his presidential bid in April last year, when he was virtually unknown on the national stage, and steadily climbed to the top of a crowded Democratic field in the months that followed.
Despite nearly tying with Senator Bernie Sanders to win the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Buttigieg fell behind in the more diverse Nevada caucuses, finishing with 14.3% of the vote compared to Sanders’ 46.8%.
On Sunday, Buttigieg once again took aim at Trump’s tenure in the White House.
“With every passing day I am more and more convinced that the only way we can defeat Trumpism … is a new politics,” he said. “We need an approach strong enough not only to win the White House but to hold the house, win the Senate and send Mitch McConnell into retirement.”
He did not endorse any of the remaining Democratic candidates, but said he would do “everything in my power to make sure that we have a new Democratic president come January.”
Buttigieg, 38, was the youngest candidate in the Democratic presidential primary race and the the first openly gay person to seek the party’s nomination. His political platform served as a more moderate foil to Sanders’ and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) more progressive agenda.
Buttigieg quickly became a fundraising force, raising more than $81 million throughout his campaign, but he had spent most of that sum as the race entered an expensive, coast-to-coast phase.
Chasten Buttigieg cheered his husband’s groundbreaking campaign during the rally on Sunday, saying he told “Pete to run because I knew there were other kids sitting out there in this country who needed to believe in themselves, too.”
“This campaign was built on an idea of hope, an idea of inclusion, an idea of addition rather than subtraction, about bringing people together,” he said. “It is time for every single person in this country to look to the White House and know that that institution stands for them.”
Buttigieg had expressed optimism for his bid earlier on Sunday, telling “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd he believed “pushing forward” was the “best thing we can do for the country and for the party.”
“Every day I am getting up looking how we can do what is best for the party, that is why we got into this race in the first place,” Buttigieg said. “A belief that this different message and a different kind of messenger could rally people together, could forge new alliances, could help us reach out in the very places where we have the best message and yet found ourselves defeated by President Trump in 2016 and cannot let that happen again.”