Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke dropped out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination Friday because "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," O'Rourke, 46, who served three terms in the House, said in a Medium post.
"Acknowledging this now is in the best interests of those in the campaign," he said. "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."
Despite raising $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after he announced his run in March, O'Rourke's campaign has never moved out of the low single digits in the polls — and he has had to reset his campaign several times.
He almost unseated Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in last November's election, narrowly losing by just 214,921 votes points in a tense contest that included a rally for Cruz by President Donald Trump.
Cruz won the race 50.9% to 48.3%, the closet U.S. Senate race in Texas since 1978.
O'Rourke ruled out another Senate run during his campaign.
President Donald Trump responded to O'Rourke's announcement by mocking him on Twitter.
"Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for president, despite him saying he was 'born for this,'" Trump said. "I don't think so!"
Trump also blamed O'Rourke in September for the difficulty in reaching an agreement with Democrats on gun-control legislation after he declared at the third Democratic debate at Texas Southern University in Houston: "Hell yes, we're going to take away your AR-15, your AK-47.
"We're not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore," he said.
Republicans and even some Democrats sparred with O'Rourke over the comment, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., telling The Wall Street Journal: "Beto O'Rourke's not taking my guns away from me. You tell Beto that, OK?"
O'Rourke is the ninth Democrat to drop out of the 2020 race.
Others include former Army paratrooper Richard Ojeda, who quit in January; California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who left in July; New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, Massachusetts State Rep. Seth Moulton, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who all dropped out the following month; and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who quit the race in September.
"Our campaign has been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly and acting decisively in the best interests of America," O'Rourke said in his Medium post.
"Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully."
O'Rourke said he began his campaign "because I believed that I could help bring a divided country together in common cause to confront the greatest set of challenges we've ever faced.
"I also knew that the most fundamental of them is fear — the fear that Donald Trump wants us to feel about one another; the very real fear that too many in this country live under; and the fear we sometimes feel when it comes to doing the right thing, especially when it runs counter to what is politically convenient or popular," he said.
The former congressman continued: "I knew, and I still know, that we can reject and overcome these fears and choose to instead be defined by our ambitions and our ability to achieve them."
O'Rourke said that his campaign required him to be "unafraid" in in how he ran it.
"We'd have to run with nothing to lose," he said, reiterated that he had pledged to not accept contributions from PACs or corporations.
The campaign, he said, would rely on "grassroots volunteers and supporters from everywhere, especially from those places that had been overlooked or taken for granted.
"We should be proud of what we fought for and what we were able to achieve," O'Rourke said, before later pledging to work for the eventual Democratic nominee.
"Thank you for making this campaign possible," he concluded, "and for continuing to believe that we can turn this moment of great peril into a moment of great promise for America and the world."
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