After four consecutive losses to Democratic front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards has bowed out of the race for the presidency.
"With our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November," said Edwards, ending his second campaign in a hurricane-ravaged section of New Orleans where he began it more than a year ago.
Watch John Edwards end his race for the Democratic nomination by clicking play.
Edwards said Clinton and Obama had both pledged that "they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency."
"This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause," he said before a small group of supporters. He was joined by his wife Elizabeth and his three children, Cate, Emma Claire, and Jack.
It was the second time Edwards sought the Democratic presidential nomination. Four years ago he was the vice presidential running mate on a ticket with Sen. John Kerry. This time around, Edwards managed to hold his own as a top tier candidate against his two better-funded rivals.
The impact of Edwards' decision will be felt by Feb. 5, when Democrats hold primaries and caucuses across 22 states, with 1,681 delegates at stake.
Four in 10 Edwards supporters said their second choice in the race is Clinton, while a quarter prefer Obama, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo poll conducted late this month.
Edwards amassed 56 national convention delegates, most of whom will be free to support either Obama or Clinton.
Suspending Rather than Ending
Edwards said he was suspending his campaign rather than ending it. But aides said that was simply legal terminology so that he can continue to receive federal matching funds for his campaign donations.
An immediate impact of Edwards' withdrawal will be six additional delegates for Obama, giving him a total of 187, and four more for Clinton, giving her 253. A total of 2,025 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination.
Edwards won 26 delegates in the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina contests. Under party rules, 10 of those delegates will be automatically dispersed among Obama and Clinton, based on their vote totals in those respective contests. The remaining 16 remain pledged to Edwards, meaning his campaign will have a say in naming them.
Three superdelegates - mainly party and elected officials who automatically attend the convention and can support whomever they choose - had already switched from Edwards to Obama before news of Edwards' withdrawal from the race.
Running the Race Despite Family Illness
His decision last year to continue running despite the revelation of his wife's illness gave rise to a national debate on family duty and public service. But Edwards's wife was stalwart in defense of her husband and took an active part in his campaign.
She was frequently surrounded by well-wishers and other cancer survivors who cheered her on.
"You can't stop when people are cheering for you all along the way," she said in a speech at the City Club of Cleveland. "It makes the private journey we are going through now easier."
Despite ending his presidential run, the former senator will not be idle. He has plans to work with Habitat for Humanity on the rebuilding project Musician's Village, an adviser said.
The North Carolina senator will not endorse either Obama or Clinton at this time.
Source: The Associated Press