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Moulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction

Moulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction
© Greg Nash

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonLawmakers want Pentagon, DOJ to punish current, former military members who participated in riot House chairman endorses Michele Flournoy for Biden's Pentagon chief Trump critic: I am not afraid of Trump MORE (D-Mass.) announced Friday he will drop out of the 2020 presidential contest, making him the third candidate in a little more than a week to exit the Democratic primary.

"Today, I want to use this opportunity, with all of you here, to announce that I am ending my campaign for president," Moulton is expected to say later in the day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in San Francisco.

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"Though this campaign is not ending the way we hoped, I am leaving this race knowing that we raised issues that are vitally important to the American people and our future."

Moulton, a Harvard-educated Marine veteran, launched his bid for the Democratic nomination in April. But his candidacy never gained traction and he failed twice to make the debate stage. With the deadline to qualify for the third primary debates in September fast approaching, Moulton was almost certain to fall short once again. 

His exit from the race was first reported on Friday by The New York Times.

He’s the third candidate since last week to exit the nominating contest. On Aug. 15, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperModerates vow to 'be a force' under Biden Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE ended his presidential bid, and on Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Thousands of troops dig in for inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters MORE did the same, saying in an appearance on MSNBC that he no longer saw a viable path to the nomination.

All three men will seek other offices in 2020. Moulton said on Friday that he will run for reelection to his House seat. Inslee is expected to seek a third term as governor, while Hickenlooper announced on Thursday that he would mount a Senate bid in Colorado. 

Moulton, who won his House seat in 2014 after ousting Democratic incumbent John TierneyJohn F. TierneyYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Moulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Stanley McChrystal endorses Moulton for president MORE in a primary, made a name for himself in Congress as a kind of maverick willing to criticize his own party’s leadership, most notably Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOklahoma man who videotaped himself with his feet on desk in Pelosi's office during Capitol riot released on bond House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot With another caravan heading North, a closer look at our asylum law MORE (D-Calif.).

Prior to announcing his White House bid, speculation swirled that he could seek to challenge Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden expands on Obama ethics pledge Democrats shoot down McConnell's filibuster gambit Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees MORE (D-Mass.) for his seat in 2020. He opted instead to enter the already-crowded Democratic presidential field.

Throughout his campaign, he struggled to break out in polls and in fundraising. Most surveys showed him lingering at around 1 percent support or less. And in the second quarter of the year, his campaign reported a $1.2 million fundraising haul, putting him among the race’s lowest fundraisers.

In a memo sent to reporters on Friday, Moulton’s campaign acknowledged that he “always faced long odds” in his bid for the Democratic nomination, citing the congressman’s relatively late entrance into the race and low name recognition in the race of high-profile rivals.

In an interview with the Times, Moulton said he had no immediate plans to endorse another candidate in the race, but noted that three candidates — former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Bernie Sanders has been most-followed member of Congress on social media for six years This week: Senate stuck in limbo MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Skepticism reigns as Biden, McConnell begin new era MORE (D-Mass.) — were on track to dominate the field.

“I think it’s evident that this is now a three-way race between Biden, Warren and Sanders, and really it’s a debate about how far left the party should go,” Moulton, 40, said.

In a separate interview with The Washington Post, Moulton spoke fondly of Biden, who like Moulton represents a more centrist-minded wing of the Democratic Party. Biden, he said, “would make a fantastic president.”

“He’s a mentor and a friend, and I’ve been impressed by the campaign he has run so far,” Moulton said.