The race for President in the Democratic Party shrank on Thursday, as former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced that he was ending his long shot bid for the White House, unable to get any traction in the polls and debates with his more moderate brand of politics.
"In almost every regard, this journey has been more exciting and more rewarding than I ever imagined," Hickenlooper said in a video released by his campaign.
"Although, of course, I did imagine a very different conclusion," Hickenlooper said with a smile.
In the first debates in June and July, Hickenlooper had made little in the way of any impact on the Democratic race, as he tried to argue that his colleagues were moving too far to the left on a number of issues.
"I think that the bottom line is, if we don't clearly define that we are not socialists, the Republicans are going to come at us every way they can and call us socialists," Hickenlooper said in the first NBC debate in Miami.
Hickenlooper is officially out of the race for president. In his videotaped statement he says he will give a run for Senate "some serious thought."— Eliza Collins (@elizacollins1) August 15, 2019
Hickenlooper repeatedly tried to break through in the debates with that more moderate message.
"I share their progressive values, but I'm a little more pragmatic," Hickenlooper said in the CNN Democratic debate in Detroit, as he made the case that Democrats needed to slow down on the Green New Deal and Medicare For All.
"Last year Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the House, and not one of those 40 Democrats supported the policies of our front-runners at center stage," Hickenlooper said at the CNN debate, as he criticized major changes in health care proposed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others.
"You might as well Fed Ex the election to Donald Trump," Hickenlooper said at the CNN debate.
Unless there had been some kind of miraculous change in the trajectory of his candidacy, Hickenlooper was not going to qualify for the next two debates, as he was not registering in the polls, and not raising enough money.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Hickenlooper had spent more money in the last quarter than he raised - another red flag about a campaign which wasn't catching on.
He had just 13,000 individual donors as of June 30, per WSJ analysis (h/t @ChadSDay). That’s miles away from the 130,000 needed to make the debate stage. (2/3)— Julie Bykowicz (@bykowicz) August 15, 2019
The lack of momentum for Hickenlooper was crystallized in a quiet moment at the CNN debate in Detroit that I witnessed.
After participating in the first night of the CNN debate, Hickenlooper arrived at the press filing center the next morning to do interviews, but he attracted little in the way of attention from reporters as he walked through the work space with an aide.
After chatting with former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Hickenlooper sat down at a press table to watch experts on CNN go over the first debate night.
As he sat and watched the TV, his name wasn't mentioned for almost 15 minutes.
To have candidates drop out at this point in the race for President is nothing unusual; it was happening four years ago at this time in the GOP race as well.