DES MOINES, Iowa — Shorty after announcing that he was dropping out, Beto O’Rourke told weeping supporters that while he did not have the money to continue his presidential bid, he would continue to advocate for his policy positions.
“Everyone who is not physically here but has been part of this campaign and is a reason that we ran in the first place, you are here with us right now, you will always be with us, and I’ll always be with you,” the former Texas congressman told the crowd at a rally planned before his scheduled appearance at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Liberty and Justice dinner, where 13 presidential candidates are expected to speak.
“This is a campaign that has prided itself on seeing things clearly, and speaking honestly, and acting decisively,” O’Rourke said. “We do not have the means to pursue this campaign successfully, and my service will not be as a candidate, nor as a nominee of this party for the presidency.”
O’Rourke is no longer speaking at the Democratic Party dinner, and some supporters in the crowd sobbed as O’Rourke gave his dropout speech.
Lydia Holm, one of the emotional O’Rourke supporters in the crowd, was taken off guard by O’Rourke’s abrupt exit right before his scheduled rally. “I thought it was going to be a party,” she told the Washington Examiner.
“He’s just the best candidate by far,” said Holm, a 47-year-old pediatric emergency doctor in Iowa. “The first time I saw him speak, it was like when I saw Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.”
O’Rourke indicated that some campaign volunteers were up at 5 a.m. setting up signs in Des Moines in preparation for his rally and appearance at the dinner. His New Hampshire staff alerted press just two hours before he dropped out that O’Rourke planned to file to be on the state’s primary ballot next week.
O’Rourke supporters, a number of them weeping as he announces his exit pic.twitter.com/4npOmfNj0A
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) November 1, 2019
In his speech, O’Rourke touted taking bold stances on issues, such as calling for confiscation of military-style assault weapons, and pledged to “do everything that I can to support the eventual nominee of this party” while calling on his supporters to do the same.
“Though this is the end of this campaign, we are right in the middle of this fight,” O’Rourke said. “I will still be part of all the causes that brought us here together in the first place, whether it is ending gun violence or confronting climate change before it is too late, or addressing the structural racism in America, or making sure this economy works for every single one of us.”
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 1, 2019
Despite raising a massive $6.1 million in the first 24 hours following announcing his White House bid, his campaign failed to sustain fundraising momentum through the rest of the campaign and spent more than it took in.
Holm expressed frustration about the influence of big money in politics, such as “big Hollywood dinners and corporate fundraisers,” adding, “It’s sad that that’s what wins now.”