WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, a moderate who has stressed improving education for Americans, abandoned his bid on Tuesday for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Bennet, 55, told supporters shortly after polls closed in New Hampshire that it was “fitting” to end his presidential effort in the state, where he had campaigned energetically.
Bennet encouraged voters to remain engaged and improve turnout in the November election when Democrats will seek to unseat Republican President Donald Trump.
“I want you to be optimistic tonight, you have to be optimistic tonight – this is in our hands,” Bennet said.
The 2020 race was an uphill climb for Bennet, who was largely unknown to the American public and failed to break out of a crowded field. Bennet qualified for the party’s debates in June and July but failed to meet tougher standards for the six debates since then.
Bennet had focused his campaign on New Hampshire, holding 50 town-hall events between early December and Tuesday’s primary election, but his efforts failed to gain traction.
He began his long-shot Democratic primary campaign a month after announcing that he had prostate cancer. He underwent surgery during a legislative break and jumped into the Democratic race in May.
As a presidential candidate, Bennet had his roots in the party’s establishment at a time when progressives and political newcomers were grabbing the political spotlight.
He grew up in Washington, the son of a former State Department official, and his grandfather advised President Franklin Roosevelt. A graduate of Wesleyan University and Yale Law School, he served in the Clinton Justice Department before moving west.
Bennet was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after his predecessor, Ken Salazar, was named secretary of the interior by President Barack Obama. He won re-election in 2016.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Joseph Ax and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney)