WASHINGTON – Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who was seen as a rising Democratic star following his viral Texas Senate bid in 2018, ended his presidential bid Friday.
O’Rourke said in a statement posted on Medium that his "service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee," adding that it is in the best interest of the Democratic Party and his campaign to unify around the nominee.
“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 said.
O’Rourke’s announcement comes as he’s struggled to gain movement in the crowded field. He was averaging 2% in national polling, according to a rolling average Real Clear Politics. He also only had met the requirements for two out of four polls needed to make the November debate stage.
President Donald Trump was quick to weigh in on the Texas Democrat’s decision, referencing a Vanity Fair profile that was published a day before O’Rourke announced his candidacy.
“Oh no, Beto just dropped out of race for President despite him saying he was ‘born for this.’ I don’t think so!” the president wrote in a tweet.
O'Rourke's announcement came as a surprise to supporters who were waiting for him to speak ahead of the Liberty and Justice Celebration in Des Moines Friday night. The dinner is an iconic event ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
Supporters pulled signs out of the grounds set up outside of the event after learning the news of O’Rourke dropping out of the race. Some O’Rourke fans — some who had been out rallying for him before his planned speech at the Liberty and Justice Celebration — hugged each other and cried. People in the crowd still wore their “Beto 2020” T-shirts. Others took off the shirts and held them while waiting for the candidate to speak.