March 1 (UPI) -- Pete Buttigieg announced Sunday night he was suspending his 2020 presidential campaign after finishing fourth in the South Carolina primary over the weekend.
Before supporters in South Bend, Ind., their former mayor said his campaign had accomplished much over the past year but that its "path has narrowed to a close," vowing to do everything in his power to ensure the next president is a Democrat.
He said he joined the race to defeat President Donald Trump and to usher in a "new kind of politics" guided by a set of values that include respect, teamwork, boldness, joy and truth.
One of those values, he said, was responsibility, which required him to consider the effects remaining in the race would have on achieving their goals of helping to unify Americans and defeat Trump.
"So 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 our country together," he said. "So tonight, I'm making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency."
Buttigieg's announcement came after he finished fourth behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and billionaire Tom Steyer in South Carolina over the weekend, earning 8.2 percent of the vote share.
His campaign began the primary season with a strong start, taking Iowa by the slimmest of margins over Sanders, which he followed up with a second-place finish behind the Vermont senator in New Hampshire. However, he finished third last week in Nevada and then fourth in South Carolina.
Buttigieg became the first openly gay man to run for the president when he announced his candidacy April 14, outlining the three pillars of his campaign as security, democracy and freedom.
"It's too bad that the people of the United States didn't get to know Pete really well," said Steve Matz, a veteran and South Bend native who was in North Carolina campaigning for Buttigieg. "He inspired the best in each of us, and America."
Reggie Love, a personal aide to President Barack Obama who rallied prospective voters for Buttigieg in Durham, N.C., said he knew a Buttigieg win in South Carolina would be difficult because the campaign had depleted its resources in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Buttigieg, he said, shared many similarities with Obama.
While Buttigieg had strong fundraising totals during most of 2019, raising almost $25 million in quarter two and quarter four, Buttigieg had not reached his $13 million donation goal as of Sunday night.
Buttigieg, an Afghanistan war veteran, had been supported by VoteVets, a hybrid PAC, a progressive group that supports veteran candidates. VoteVets supported Buttigieg's campaign through almost $3.4 million in outside spending.
Out of the Democratic candidates who are not self-funding their campaigns, Buttigieg had raised the third most amount of money. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Buttigieg had raised about $81.5 million, based on a report filed Jan. 31. Only Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont had raised more money, and Buttigieg had more cash on hand than Warren.
Buttigieg was scheduled to campaign in Dallas on Sunday but rerouted his chartered plane for South Bend, where he ended his presidential bid.
The democratic competitors still in the race, including Sanders and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, lauded Buttigieg for running a "historic" and "inspiring" campaign.
Before his supporters Sunday night chanting "2024," Buttigieg urged them to continue with the work they started.
"There is simply too much at stake to retreat to the sidelines," he said.