On Friday, former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), a successful entrepreneur who announced his run for president way back in June 2017, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race in an attempt to boost ostensible moderates in their battle to prevent an outright socialist from taking the Democratic nomination.
“Today, 2020 Presidential candidate John Delaney announces his decision to withdraw from the 2020 race. This decision is informed by internal analyses indicating John’s support is not sufficient to meet the 15% viability in a material number of caucus precincts, but sufficient enough to cause other moderate candidates to not to make the viability threshold, especially in rural areas where John has campaigned harder than anyone,” the campaign announced in a statement. “He strongly believes the Democratic Party should advance candidates with progressive values on the big issues of our time, but who are committed to governing with pragmatic, fact-based, bipartisan solutions.”
While Delaney’s statement did not explicitly suggest he was pulling out of the race in order to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-USSR) from taking the nomination, the move strongly implied it. Sanders has been rising in the polls, both nationally and in Iowa, the first state to hold a presidential contest. The Iowa caucuses will be held this coming Monday, February 3.
“It has been a privilege to campaign for the Democratic nomination for President, but it is clear that God has a different purpose for me at this moment in time,” Delaney said in his statement. “I leave this race with a profound sense of gratitude to the voters who shared with me their hopes and concerns for our magnificent country, in admiration for the other contenders for the nomination and proud of the work we did to change the debate.”
After thanking the volunteers and campaign staff, Delaney got to the heart of the issue.
“Let’s stop the nonsense of unrealistic and divisive campaign promises and be the party the American people need – a decent, unifying, future-focused and common-sense party,” he said. “And please don’t listen to the cynics, the naysayers and the dividers; while we have significant challenges and too many Americans are struggling, the world gets better every year and the United States of America has driven much of this progress – let’s keep it that way.”
The attack on “the nonsense of unrealistic and divisive campaign promises” was meant as a dig at Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-1/1024th of a Plan). Delaney repeatedly called out Sanders for the unworkability of his Medicare for All plan, and he predicted that Sanders would likely lose to Trump due to his “remarkably bad policies.” He has said he worries his party is cheering on a recession.
Despite his surprising decision to enter a presidential race almost three years before the Iowa caucuses, Delaney insisted that “this race was never about me, but about ideas and doing what’s right for our nation.”
“The unique and data-driven ideas that our campaign generated – on how to create a functional universal health care system, price carbon, advance trade, invest in rural America, cure disease, help workers, launch negative emissions technologies, reform education, and expand national service – are now ideas for the party and I will continue to advocate for them in my next chapter,” he explained. “In addition, I encourage the party to sharpen its focus on the growing opportunity inequality that exists in both rural America and struggling urban communities. The concentration of start-ups and investment capital in a small number of areas is troubling and smart public policy is needed to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses everywhere.”
Delaney also expressed patriotism — seemingly in short supply among Democrats these days. “Never bet against the United States of America. This is a remarkable nation full of wonderful and patriotic people. People who love their country, their neighbors and their families. People who work tirelessly, who innovate, and who give of their time and resources,” he said.
Delaney laid out three steps to fix America’s divisions, beginning with a divisive call to defeat Donald Trump. “Step one is to beat Donald Trump and restore decency to the Office of the President. In many ways, this is all that matters and I am fully committed to supporting our nominee and fulfilling that mission. Step two is to get our government working for the American people again. Step three is to focus on the future and leave the world better than we found it,” he said.
While Delaney has rightfully called out Bernie Sanders for his unworkable policies, his attack on “divisive campaign promises” arguably could apply to most of the Democrats who have a chance to win the nomination. Even ostensible moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Church of Social Justice), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-I’m Goldilocks, I swear!) have taken extreme positions on abortion and against religious freedom. While many of these candidates have held themselves back from endorsing Medicare for All, their public option plans would still do tremendous damage to America’s health care market while increasing the deficit.
All the same, Delaney’s decision to drop out of the race before Iowa in order to give the less socialist candidates a chance is noble. Even though he did not have a prayer of winning the Iowa caucuses, he chose the high road in order to boost anyone not named Bernie Sanders.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.