John Delaney Bows Out of Democratic Race on Eve of Iowa Caucuses

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(Bloomberg) -- John Delaney, the first candidate to join the 2020 race, is ending his presidential campaign only days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

The former three-term Maryland congressman said he made the decision because he realized that he would not reach 15% in any precinct in Iowa -- the threshold for being awarded any delegates -- and that he would take away votes from other moderate candidates.

“I will support whoever our nominee is. And I think any of our nominees can win,” Delaney told CNN. But while mentioned several moderate candidates by name including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, he said that some from the more progressive wing of the party, such as Bernie Sanders, make Democrats’ “job harder at beating Donald Trump.”

Delaney, 56 , was unable to gain traction in polls or fundraising. Although he participated in the first two Democratic debates, he failed to meet the tougher criteria for the third in Houston in September.

During the campaign, he positioned himself as a moderate and a firm believer in bipartisanship. In the second Democratic debate in Detroit in July, he had a heated exchange with Elizabeth Warren after he suggested that Democrats win “when we run on things that are workable, not fairy tale economics.”

Warren responded: “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”

Delaney favors a universal health care system but wants to maintain Medicare for those over 65. In July, he was booed at the California Democrats State Convention when he said Medicare For All “is actually not good policy, nor is it good politics.”

In announcing he was dropping out of the race Friday, Delaney said in a statement, “I leave this race with a profound sense of gratitude to the voters who shared with me their hopes and concerns for our magnificent country, in admiration for the other contenders for the nomination and proud of the work we did to change the debate.”

“This race was never about me, but about ideas and doing what’s right for our nation,” Delaney said. “Let’s stop the nonsense of unrealistic and divisive campaign promises and be the party the American people need -- a decent, unifying, future-focused and common-sense party.”

Delaney announced his candidacy on July 28, 2017, more than three years before the 2020 election.

He was was elected to the House in 2012. Before then, he worked in finance. He founded two publicly traded companies, Health Care Financial Partners and CapitalSource, and was, at one point, the youngest chief executive on the New York Stock Exchange.

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