Buttigieg to drop out of Democratic nomination race day after big Biden win

Joseph Ax and Trevor Hunnicutt, Reuters

Posted at Mar 02 2020 07:48 AM

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg attends a campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, US, Feb. 29, 2020. Eric Thayer, Reuters

SELMA, Alabama - Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was preparing to drop out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, an aide said on Sunday, the day after fellow moderate Joe Biden won a big victory in South Carolina.

The move shook up the Democratic contest to pick a candidate to take on Republican President Donald Trump in November's election and came two days before the 14-state Super Tuesday nominating contests that will offer the biggest electoral prize so far.

Buttigieg, a 38-year-old Afghanistan war veteran who narrowly won the Iowa caucuses last month, had sought to unite Democrats, independents, and moderate Republican voters. He planned to withdraw hours after Democratic candidates commemorated on Sunday a landmark civil rights march in Alabama.

Some worshipers at the African-American church where the event was held turned their backs on his presidential rival Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who will first appear on ballots on Tuesday after skipping the first 4 contests. 

Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, received a chilly reception at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma after the pastor, the Rev. Leodis Strong, told the gathering the billionaire businessman initially had turned down the invitation to speak.

"I was hurt, I was disappointed," Strong said as Bloomberg looked on stonily. "I think it's important that he came, and it shows a willingness on his part to change."

About 10 people in the small church with a couple hundred in attendance stood up and turned their backs on Bloomberg as he spoke about racial inequality.

Biden and Bloomberg are trying to present themselves as the party's best choice to take on Trump, saying US Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is too far to the left to win the general election. 

Black voters are a key Democratic constituency, and Bloomberg has been criticized for supporting the use of a policing practice called stop and frisk in New York City that encouraged police to stop and search pedestrians and disproportionately affected blacks and Latinos.