DETROIT: Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg will suspend his campaign for president on Sunday night, a campaign aide said, following his fourth-place finish in the South Carolina Democratic primary easily won by fellow moderate Joe Biden.
Buttigieg’s withdrawal could help Biden, a one-time national Democratic front-runner whose much-needed victory in South Carolina on Saturday gave him momentum heading into the 14-state Super Tuesday nominating contests this week.
“Pete is heading back to South Bend and will give a speech tonight suspending his campaign,” the campaign aide told Reuters.
Buttigieg, a 38-year-old Afghanistan war veteran who would have been the first openly gay US president, had sought to unite Democrats, independents and moderate Republican voters, arguing that his status as a Washington outsider could rebuild the majority needed to defeat Republican President Donald Trump in November’s election.
He entered the race as a relative unknown on the national stage, with two terms as mayor of a small Midwestern city as the chief item on his political resume. But his campaign invested heavily in rural and Trump-leaning counties in Iowa in the hope that a win in its first Democratic nominating contest would give him a boost in states to come.
He did just that, pulling out a narrow victory in Iowa over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and surprising many in the Democratic establishment with a close second-place finish in New Hampshire.
But Buttigieg’s tenure as mayor, which ended on Jan 1, came under persistent scrutiny for a lack of diversity on the city’s police force and a fatal shooting of a black resident by a police officer.
He struggled to maintain momentum as the pace of the contests accelerated through demographically diverse Nevada and South Carolina, and he lacked the national profile and long-standing relationships with the black community that helped Biden win South Carolina.