Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has announced he is ending his campaign for the White House.
Pete Buttigieg, 38, became the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major party when he announced he was running for the Democratic nomination.
However, despite a successful start, his campaign lost momentum in recent weeks.
Pete Buttigieg’s decision to drop out comes ahead of Super Tuesday, March 3, in the Democratic race to take on Donald Trump.
Fourteen states will vote on Super Tuesday, by the end of which staunch left-winger Bernie Sanders could have an unbeatable lead and be a step closer to the nomination.
Pete Buttigieg’s departure leaves six Democrats still in the running – Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Kobluchar and Tulsi Gabbard.
Speaking to supporters in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg stressed the values he said his campaign had hoped to promote.
He said: “And 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 nation together.
“So tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency.”
Pete Buttigieg pledged he would do “everything in my power” to ensure a Democratic win in November’s election.
He won the first event of the primary season, the caucuses in Iowa on February 3. But he failed to repeat that success and win the delegates needed to make him the front- runner and later confirm his nomination. On February 29, he finished a distant fourth in South Carolina.
Joe Biden praised Pete Buttigieg’s campaigning effort in a tweet.
Pete Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, also addressed crowds of supporters in South Bend, saying: “About a year and a half ago, my husband came home from work and told me – well he asked me: ‘What do you think about running for president?’ And I laughed! Not at him, but at life.
“Life gave me some interesting experiences, on my way to find Pete. After falling in love with Pete, Pete got me to believe in myself… and I told Pete to run [for office] because I knew there were other kids sitting out there in this country who needed to believe in themselves, too.”
Pete Buttigieg’s only political experience had been as the centrist mayor of the 306th largest city in the US, South Bend, Indiana between 2012 and January this year.
Before then, he had served as a US Navy intelligence officer and in the Afghan war.
Pete Buttigieg was the first millennial to run for the White House, and would have been the youngest president to take office had he won.
The son of a Maltese immigrant, he had long been rumored as a possible candidate in the 2020 election. But after announcing his candidacy in April last year, he was able to break through a crowded group to become one of the most recognizable faces in the campaign.
In that time, Pete Buttigieg raised more than $82 million, according to the Federal Election Commission, one of the highest totals of all the candidates.
Pete Buttigieg – pronounced Boot-Edge-Edge – came out as gay aged 33 and married his husband Chasten in June 2018.
He also struggled to build support among African-American voters, a point emphasized by his poor showing in South Carolina.
Pete Buttigieg’s record as mayor came under fire among minority voters – he had fired South Bend’s first African American police chief and was criticized over how he handled the case of a white police officer who shot dead a black man last year.