Pete Buttigieg Ends Presidential Campaign in South Bend, Indiana

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his presidential bid in Indiana Sunday night, hours after a campaign aide told Newsweek that the candidate has made the decision to suspend his 2020 campaign.

Buttigieg, 38, the first openly gay major presidential candidate, traveled back to South Bend, where he gave a speech announcing the halt of his presidential bid. Buttigieg's decision came after he failed to recapture the momentum lost in South Carolina and Nevada following a strong finish in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In an emotional speech Sunday evening, Buttigieg remarked: "By every conventional wisdom, by every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all."

And then "Iowa shocked the nation, and along that way, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality," he continued, to loud applause. "In a field where more than two dozen Democratic candidates ran for president--senators and governors, billionaires, a former vice president--we achieved a top four finish in each of the first four states and we made history winning those Iowa caucuses."

"We sent a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are somehow destined to be less than," he also said.

"Tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency," Buttigieg added. "I will no longer seek to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for president, but I will do everything in my power to ensure that we have a new Democratic president come January."

After narrowly winning the Iowa caucuses last month and placing second in the New Hampshire primary, Buttigieg quickly suffered a defeat in the Nevada caucuses, coming in at a distant third. The former mayor continued to lose momentum on Saturday, after he placed fourth among the crowded field in South Carolina.

Buttigieg officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign on April 14, 2019 after beginning his exploratory committee in January. Although he was considered a rising young star in the race, the former mayor has repeatedly faced criticism from other candidates over his lack of experience and low popularity with voters of color.

The gay Democratic candidate from conservative Indiana presented himself to voters as a liberal who's capable of gaining support from moderates, independents and Republicans that do not want to see another four years of President Donald Trump. He quickly surged in the early months of the race through numerous public appearances on a wide range of media outlets, including CNN and Fox News.

His decision to end his campaign is unexpected and abrupt. Buttigieg was scheduled to hold a rally in Dallas on Sunday evening, but his transportation reportedly changed route to South Bend.

Buttigieg's announcement comes just days before Super Tuesday, when 14 states will vote at the polls to determine one-third of the U.S. delegates for the Democratic nomination. The end of his campaign will shake up the dynamics of the race and allow the moderates a better chance to obtain more voters each, which will harm Senator Bernie Sanders, the leading progressive candidate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday secured a nearly 30-point victory in the South Carolina primary, a result that applied pressure on moderates to coalesce behind him as the leading candidate in that lane. Although Buttigieg has heavily criticized Biden in the past, he directed his attention in recent weeks to Sanders, a candidate he believes is too liberal to become president.

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a rally at Rancho High School on February 16, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty