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Montana Sen. John Walsh Quits Race

Montana Sen. John Walsh announced Thursday he is ending his campaign following a report that much of his U.S. Army War College research paper was taken from other sources without proper attribution, NBC News has confirmed.

Walsh emailed supporters saying he is ending his campaign because the plagiarism controversy “has become a distraction from the debate you expect and deserve.”

Last month the New York Times reported Walsh had copied large portions of the paper he wrote in 2007 without any attribution to the originial sources where he found the information. His campaign has struggled to explain the apparent plagiarism since the story broke.

Walsh was appointed to his Senate seat following the departure of Sen. Max Baucus earlier this year. He faced an uphill campaign against Republican challenger Steve Daines even before the Times story.

Democrats with knowledge of Walsh's decision say they will try to recruit another candidate to run for the seat, and they say Walsh's decision was made to help downballot Democrats -- who might have suffered with Walsh on the top of the state's ticket.

Walsh will serve out the remainder of his Senate term, which ends in January.

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-- Mark Murray and Andrew Rafferty