DES MOINES, Iowa – Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas on Friday afternoon announced that he will drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. With O’Rourke’s departure that leaves 17 candidates still in the race.
O’Rourke was scheduled to appear at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice Celebration on Friday evening, but announced two hours prior to the start of the event.
“Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully. My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee. 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,” O’Rourke said in a post on Medium.
O’Rourke pledged to pursue the issues he promoted as a candidate.
“Let us continue to fearlessly champion the issues and causes that brought us together. Whether it is ending the epidemic of gun violence or dismantling structural racism or successfully confronting climate change before it is too late, we will continue to organize and mobilize and act in the best interests of America,” he wrote.
He pledged to support the Democratic nominee.
As his campaign declined, O’Rourke swung to the left on issues such as gun control where he promised to confiscate assault weapons. He also threatened the tax exempt status of faith-based organizations who oppose same-sex marriage, but later walked that back some to just target faith-based organizations who are believed to have discriminated against LGBT Americans.
Prior to dropping out O’Rourke has a Real Clear Politics average of 2 percent in national polls. In Iowa he never gained traction with a poll average of only one percent, and polled with less than one percent in the latest Iowa Caucus poll conducted by the New York Times and Siena University.