Yang, Bennett drop US 2020 Democratic presidential bids

Long-shot Democratic candidates withdraw from race following poor performances in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Andrew Yang
Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks at a town hall meeting in Iowa [File: AP Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo]

Democrat Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur who created a buzz for his United States presidential campaign by championing a universal basic income that would give every US adult $1,000 per month, and Colorado Senator Michael Bennet both suspended their 2020 bids Tuesday just as results from the New Hampshire primary began to trickle in.

“Our signature proposal, universal basic income, has become part of the mainstream conversation,” Yang told cheering supporters as he bowed out. But, he added: “I am the math guy, and it is clear to me from the numbers that we are not going to win this race.”

The 45-year-old Yang was one of the breakout stars of the Democratic primary race, building a following that started largely online but expanded to give him enough donors and polling numbers to qualify for the first six debates.

He outlasted senators and governors and after initially self-funding his campaign, he raised more money than most of his rivals, bringing in more than $16m in the final quarter of last year. It was a bigger haul than all but the top four candidates: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Yang grew his outsider candidacy by campaigning as a non-politician, someone who mixed unconventional campaign events – from bowling to axe throwing – with serious talk about the millions of jobs lost to automation and artificial intelligence and the dark outlook for American jobs and communities.

The graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School gave campaign speeches full of statistics and studies that often resembled an economics seminar. His supporters, known as the Yang Gang, donned blue hats and pins with the word MATH – short for his slogan Make America Think Harder.

Michael Bennet
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet speaks during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, Feb. 2, 2020. [File: Mary Altaffer/AP Photo]

Yang promoted his signature issue of universal basic income, which he dubbed the “freedom dividend”, by announcing during a debate that he would choose individuals to receive the monthly $1,000 checks. The statement prompted questions about whether he was trying to buy votes, but also generated a buzz online and helped the campaign build a list of possible supporters.

His poll numbers were high enough, combined with his fundraising strength, to qualify for him for all of the 2019 debates, though he fell short of Democratic National Committee’s qualifications to participate in the January debate in Iowa. He qualified for the February debate in New Hampshire.

Yang spent most of January in Iowa, which kicks off the process to choose the candidate who will run against Trump in November, including a 17-day bus tour during which he told voters his finish in Iowa would “shock the world”.

Bennet, 55, was a late entrant to the race who staked his bid largely on trying to win New Hampshire. He only formally announced his candidacy in late April, after completing treatment for prostate cancer. He was the seventh senator and second white Colorado moderate to join the field, which made it difficult for him to stand out.

Bennet ran on a centrist platform and made a point of bucking the trend among some candidates for splashy, liberal proposals. Instead of embracing “Medicare for All” and free college, Bennet ran on what he called his “Real Deal” platform of more modest but still ambitious goals. Those included annual payments of at least $3,000 to families with children under age 18, allowing people to buy into an expanded form of Medicare and a $1 trillion housing affordability plan.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies