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Pete Buttigieg Speaks From South Bend, Confirms He’s Dropping Out to ‘Ensure We Have a New Democratic President’

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Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg returned to his hometown tonight to address his supporters and announce that he was ending his presidential campaign, hoping his exit would help “ensure we have a new Democratic president” next January.

The news broke Sunday afternoon, with Buttigieg campaign aides confirming to CNN that he was dropping out of the race. The candidate’s reasoning, according to CNN, was that he did not see a path to victory and wanted to help ensure that the Democrats had the strongest possible candidate to take on President Donald Trump.

Buttigieg’s campaign had succeeded beyond virtually all expectations, starting with a small town mayor with such low name recognition that it was necessary for him to spend time educating reporters and potential supporters how to pronounce his last name. Clever campaign messaging — aided by Buttigieg’s husband Chasten Buttigieg and their Instagram-friendly pet dogs, Truman and Buddy — promoted the debate between “Boot-Edge-Edge” and “Buddha Judge,” as well as the candidate’s military background and educational credentials.

Buttigieg won the Iowa caucus, but was unable to carry that momentum forward as much as the campaign had hoped. After former Vice President Joe Biden‘s strong victory in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Buttigieg’s prospects for the pending Super Tuesday contests dimmed.

Chasten Buttigieg addressed the crowd in South Bend first, getting choked up several times as he spoke about his husband’s decision to run for president and how much he loved and supported him.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to share my husband with the rest of the country,” he said. “And I am so proud that the same person you saw on the debate stage, the same person you saw at a town hall, is the same person that comes home to me every night.”

Buttigieg then came out on stage, embraced his husband warmly as his supporters cheered, and stepped to the podium.

He started by noting how unlikely his campaign had been. “We began this unlikely journey with a staff of four in a cramped office right here in South Bend, Indiana…No big email lists, no personal fortune, hardly anybody knew my name, and even fewer could pronounce it.”

The hometown crowd laughed as he credited them for helping him: “But South Bend showed everybody what to do. First name mayor, last name Pete. So nobody got confused.”

By every historical measure,” he continued, “we were never supposed to get anywhere at all,” calling the campaign a “rollercoaster” that turned “an improbable hope” into “an undeniable reality.”

Buttigieg touted his success facing off against “more than two dozen democratic candidates ran for president, senators and governors, billionaires, a former vice president,” but still managing to achieve “a top-four finish in each of the first four states, and we made history winning those Iowa caucuses.”

“We got into this race for a reason,” he said. “We got into this race in order to defeat the current president and in order to usher in a new kind of politics. And that meant guiding our campaign by the values we like to call the rules of the road: Respect, belonging, truth, teamwork, boldness, responsibility, substance, discipline, excellence, and joy.”

Buttigieg then said that another important value for the campaign was “responsibility,” adding that “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.”

And then the words that made it official:

“And so tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency. I will no longer seek to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president. But I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have a new Democratic president come January.”

The crowd began chanting “2024! 2024!”

Buttigieg continued, thanking his supporters, and then specifically mentioning his mother, “who not only helped raise me but put her love of language into work answering letters for the campaign,” his father who passed away in January “who left us just as this was all getting underway, but he was very much here and part of this effort,” and his husband, “the guy who took a chance on a first date with somebody all the way in South Bend, Indiana, and never looked back — Chasten, I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.”

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