Sen. Cory Booker announced earlier today that he would suspend his presidential campaign. On Twitter, he posted, “It’s with a full heart that I share this news—I’m suspending my campaign for president. To my team, supporters, and everyone who gave me a shot—thank you. I am so proud of what we built, and I feel nothing but faith in what we can accomplish together.” According to CNN, Booker said in an email to his supporters, “It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory.”
The senator’s announcement was made just one day before six presidential candidates will participate in the CNN/Des Moines Register’s debate in Des Moines, Iowa, one for which Booker did not qualify. It also came as the Senate readies for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. CNN reports the senator also wrote in his email to supporters, “Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington.”
Booker’s withdrawal is the second by that of a Black Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. senator in recent weeks; Sen. Kamala Harris of California suspended her campaign early last month, also citing a lack of campaign funding. There is one African-American, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, among the three remaining Democratic candidates of color; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and entrepreneur Andrew Yang are the others. None of them will be onstage at tomorrow night’s debate in Iowa.
At times, Booker’s stump speech could assume the quality of a TED Talk or a sermon, moving members of the audience to tears and converting many to supporters. But ultimately that small-scale passion did not translate into broader support for Booker, who polled in the low single digits for much of his campaign.His advisers maintained that if only Booker could introduce himself to more voters, he stood a chance of becoming more competitive. But a few factors prevented the sort of breakout moment that many political prognosticators believed would come for Booker, but never did.Throughout 2019, Booker’s fundraising paled in comparison to that of the top-tier Democratic candidates, limiting his capacity to expand his campaign team and advertise on television. In December, Booker failed to qualify for the debate stage, in part because his campaign did not have enough money to boost his polling.Booker could also be difficult to define as a candidate. Although he aimed for a middle-road between the party’s most progressive candidates and its moderate entrants, Booker might have landed in a political no-man’s-land, without a clear ideological brand to attract undecided voters.Booker’s background as a former mayor and Rhodes Scholar did not receive the same attention as those of others, like Pete Buttigieg, another Rhodes Scholar and now-former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who became an object of the public’s and media’s fascination.Booker also was not eager to highlight contrasts with his rivals, even as other candidates benefited from such attacks.One exception was when Booker, over the summer, took on former Vice President Joe Biden for using the term “boy” in a manner demeaning to African Americans. When Biden suggested Booker should be the one to apologize, Booker did not back down.”I was raised to speak truth to power and that I shall never apologize for doing that,” Booker told CNN’s Don Lemon at the time. “And Vice President Biden shouldn’t need this lesson.”Booker was consistently lauded for his debate performances, when he often commanded the stage. But those were ultimately not enough to boost his profile in the crowded 2020 primary.When Booker failed to meet the polling requirements for the December Democratic debate, he acknowledged it was a setback for his campaign, but vowed to keep pushing on, citing his strong organization in Iowa and other early states.But his path to an upset was further complicated by the looming impeachment trial in the Senate, which would have pulled him off the campaign trail.In his announcement to supporters, Booker said he would do “everything in my power to elect the eventual Democratic nominee for president, whomever that may be, and to elect great Democrats to the Senate and up and down the ballot.”
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