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The former Army veteran, 38, was the first openly gay candidate to stand for the Democratic nominee.
He made his official announcement to supporters in his home town of South Bend, Indiana, at 8.30pm ET last night. He was introduced to the stage by his husband, Chasten, who was visibly emotional.
“About a year and a half ago, ” recalled Chasten, “my husband came home from work and … asked me, ‘What do you think about running for President?’
“And I laughed. Not at him, but at life. Because life gave me some interesting experiences on my way to finding Pete. After falling in love with Pete, he got me to believe in myself again.”
Chasten has spoken before about some members of his family not being supportive when he came out to them as gay.
“And I told Pete to run because I knew there were other kids sitting out there in this country who needed to believe in themselves too,” he continued.
“This campaign was built on an idea of hope. An idea of inclusion,” he said. “An idea of addition rather than subtraction. About bringing people together. About looking your neighbor in the eye and saying ‘Maybe we don’t agree on everything but let’s agree on this.’
“We’ve got one shot. And that’s what we did. We went out there with that one shot and we gave it everything we had because it is time for every single person in this country to look to the White House and know that that institution stands for them, that they belong in this country.
Chasten concluded by saying, “It has been an honor and a privilege to share my husband with the rest of this country … and I am so proud that the same person you saw on the debate stage, and the same person you saw at a town hall, is the same person who comes home to me every night.
“It’s an honor to come home and bring home the person I love so dearly, so please help me welcome to the stage, my dear husband … the man I love so much, ‘Mayor Pete’ Buttigieg.”
Buttigieg received a rapturous reception from the assembled supporters. He began by telling them the reasons he had embarked on his campaign.
“In the last few years, America has faced enormous challenges from an economy in transition to a climate on the brink, to a President so in chaos and discord across the very country he is responsible for uniting.
“For many Americans, these challenges have accounted to a call for action, and like so many others, I thought deeply about what I could do to make a difference, what I could do to make myself useful.
“It was in that spirit, with your help, that a year ago, we launched our campaign for the American Presidency … But by every conventional wisdom, by every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all.”
He recalled his success in the Iowa caucus in February, where he came top. He said at that moment, “An improbable hope became an undeniable reality.
“In a field in which more than two dozen Democratic candidates ran for President – Senators, and Governors, billionaires and a former Vice President – we achieved a top-four finish in each of the first four states to hold nominating contests, and we made history winning those Iowa caucuses. And all of that, it came about thanks to your support. Thanks to the power of this campaign’s vision.”
He went on to say he now realized his campaign was unlikely to succeed.
“Today is a moment of truth … the truth is that the path has narrowed to a close for our candidacy if not for our cause,” he said.
“We must recognize that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and country together.
“Our goal has always been to unify Americans to help defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.
“We have a responsibility to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further.”
“I firmly believe that in these years, in our time, we can and we will make American life and politics more like what it could be — not just more wise and more prosperous, but more equitable and more just and more decent.”
Echoing his husband’s comments about giving hope to others, he also said, “We sent a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are somehow destined to be less than, to see that someone who once felt that exact same way can become a leading American presidential candidate with his husband at his side.”
Some have speculated that Buttigieg pulled out before Super Tuesday as he doesn’t want to be the reason that Bernie Sanders gains an unassailable lead in the race to be Democratic nominee. Many Buttigieg supporters will transfer their votes to other centrists, such as former VP Joe Biden.
This possibility was prominent in the mind of President Donald Trump. His reaction to Buttigieg’s withdrawal came – unsurprisingly – in the form of a tweet, which took a swipe at both Biden and Sanders.
“Pete Buttigieg is OUT. All of his SuperTuesday votes will go to Sleepy Joe Biden. Great timing. This is the REAL beginning of the Dems taking Bernie out of play – NO NOMINATION, AGAIN!”
Pete Buttigieg is OUT. All of his SuperTuesday votes will go to Sleepy Joe Biden. Great timing. This is the REAL beginning of the Dems taking Bernie out of play – NO NOMINATION, AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2020
On social media postings, Buttigieg extended thanks to all those who had supported or listened to him.
“Thank you for inviting me into your homes, sharing your stories, and putting your trust in me. We launched our campaign because Americans are hungry for a new kind of politics that brings us together. And together we’ll beat this president and build the era that must come next.”
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Thank you for inviting me into your homes, sharing your stories, and putting your trust in me. We launched our campaign because Americans are hungry for a new kind of politics that brings us together. And together we’ll beat this president and build the era that must come next.
Chasten Buttigieg shared a photo of himself with his husband, with the simple caption: “Always.”
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