New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker suspended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday, ending a once-promising bid that never quite caught on with voters.
“Today I’m suspending my campaign for president with the same spirit with which it began: with my faith in us, my faith in us together as a nation, that we share a common pain and common problems that can only be solved with a common purpose and a sense of common cause,” Booker said in a video to supporters announcing his decision.
Booker’s exit leaves a dozen candidates still running for the Democratic nomination for president, roughly half the number that began in the historically large field.
Booker began the campaign viewed as a potential serious candidate for president. He’d been carefully laying the groundwork to run for years, assiduously courting donors and activists, and working feverishly to support other Democrats in down-ticket races.
His strong oratorical skills and upbeat, love-first message seemed like it might catch on with a base desperate to turn the page on President Trump’s unending fury and divisiveness. And his background — as a Rhodes Scholar and Stanford football player turned mayor of Newark, one of the country’s roughest cities — was an appealing one.
Booker actually led the field in Iowa lawmaker endorsements for much of the race, as local lawmakers saw a promising campaign. As one of the few black candidates in the field — and as one with a tendency toward sweeping, unity-oriented speeches — he’d long drawn comparisons to former President Obama.
But a historically crowded field and stringent debate qualification rules were hurdles Booker couldn’t overcome. He was forced to spend a bunch of time and money scrambling to find enough donors necessary to qualify for ever-increasing debate requirements. Even after he hit those benchmarks after months of begging for $1 donations, Booker struggled to hit the slowly increasing polling requirements to make the debate stage.
The final blow was likely when he failed to qualify for Tuesday night’s debate — the final one before Iowa’s influential caucuses in early February.