Former U.S. representative John Delaney (D-Md.) rejected claims Friday that campaign staffers asked him to drop out of the 2020 presidential race.
“No one on my team asked me to drop out of the race and I have no plans to drop out of the race. In addition, anyone who spent any time actually reading the FEC reports would see clearly that we did not spend $19 million on the campaign – we spent $9 million since we launched by Presidential campaign,” Delaney said in a statement.
Delaney’s comments come after Axios reported on Friday that senior staffers asked the 56-year-old to drop out of the Democratic contest by mid-August.
“I think a lot of people who did leave thought, ‘You gotta eat. You need a paycheck.’ So that was a big part of it,” said a former staffer quoted in Axios.
Delaney was the first to enter the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, announcing his candidacy 721 days ago in 2017. Having visited each one of Iowa’s 99 counties by now, Delaney started running television ads in the state as early as February of last year during the Super Bowl.
Friday’s report provoked the hashtag “DropOutDelaney” to begin trending on Twitter, with rival 2020 candidate and former U.S. senator Mike Gravel (D-AK.) leading the online movement.
“Can we ratio him out of the debates? … Get it trending: #DropOutDelaney,” Gravel tweeted.
Can we ratio him out of the debates?
— Sen. Mike Gravel #DropOutDelaney (@MikeGravel) July 19, 2019
Gravel, 89, failed to qualify for either the first or second sets of Democratic debates.
Since launching his presidential bid nearly two and a half years ago, Delaney has campaigned on a platform of bipartisanship while pushing back on the farther left direction that many Democrats in the race appear to be taking the party.
At the California Democratic Convention last month, which drew several prominent 2020 Democrats, Delaney was booed for criticizing Democrats’ new signature proposal, “Medicare for All.”
“Medicare for All may sound good, but it’s actually not good policy, nor is it good politics,” Delaney told the un-receptive audience.
Delaney tried to recover, repeatedly saying “we should have universal health care” to a noisy audience alienated by the Maryland Democrat’s criticism of what appears to be the Democratic Party’s new favorite policy item. Once the audience calmed down, Delaney finished his thought, refusing to back down from his platform.
“We should have universal health care, but it shouldn’t be the kind of health care that kicks 150 million Americans off their health care,” Delaney asserted. “That’s not smart policy.”
Throughout the entire campaign, Delaney has struggled to garner significant support among Democrats despite qualifying for the first two rounds of debates to bring the candidate into being a top-tier contender.
According to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls, Delaney holds an average of 0.6 percent support among Democrats, tied with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).