Tim Ryan drops out of presidential race

The Ohio congressman announced his decision in a video to supporters. His campaign said he wasn't endorsing anyone just yet.
Image: Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids on June 9, 2019.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids on June 9, 2019.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

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By Allan Smith, Alex Seitz-Wald, Amanda Golden and Ali Vitali

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ended his long-shot presidential campaign after months of struggling to find a footing in the crowded Democratic field.

Ryan announced his decision to end his campaign in a video to supporters, stating he would run again for his House seat. He isn’t throwing his support behind anyone in the 2020 field at this time, his campaign told NBC.

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"I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country: the workers who have been left behind, the businesses who have been left behind, the people who need health care or aren’t getting a quality education, or are saddled by tremendous debt," Ryan said in the video. "I'm proud of this campaign because I believe we’ve done that. We’ve given voice to the forgotten communities and the forgotten people in the United States."

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The Ohio congressman focused his candidacy on tackling the economic issues facing the middle of the country, launching his presidential candidacy on a promise to "re-empower workers and revive the American middle class." Ryan sought to bring his Rust Belt sensibilities to the Democratic primary field, representing an area that flipped from supporting President Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016.

On Friday, President Donald Trump mocked Ryan in a pair of tweets, celebrating his exit from the race with a series of insults.

"See Tim, it’s not so easy out there if you don’t know what you’re doing. He wasn’t effective for USA workers, just talk!" Trump tweeted.

Ryan, 46, first came to national prominence when he challenged then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for the party's top leadership position in 2016. He lost in a 134-63 vote.

Ryan was consistently polling at less than 1 percent through the year, enough to qualify for appearances in the June and July Democratic primary debates. He failed to qualify for the last two debates, and he reported raising only a little more than $425,000 in the quarter that ended Sept. 30 — less than half what he had raised in the previous three months. He ended the quarter with less than $160,000 cash on hand, forcing him to reassure supporters that he had no plans to drop out.

Speaking with NBC News in September, Ryan explained why he was still pursuing the presidency even after failing to qualify for that month's debate.

"There are always a million reasons why not to do something," he said. "But I would much rather be in the position of following my own instincts, my own heart, even if didn’t work out, as opposed to listening to some dumb bastard who didn’t know what they hell they were talking about. And if I didn’t take my chance, wondering what could have been?"

In the weeks after Ryan's disappointing performance in the July debate, several members of his campaign team approached him about dropping out, saying they saw no path to victory since it was unlikely he would qualify for the fall debates. They suggested he could gracefully exit the race by refocusing his efforts on ending gun violence following an August mass shooting in his home state.

Ryan did participate in gun-control rallies and marches in the weeks after the shooting in Dayton. But he eventually returned to the 2020 trail and later saw several staffers and consultants depart his campaign, including two who left to take senior jobs with his Democratic presidential rival Andrew Yang.

Alex Johnson contributed.