Swalwell ends presidential campaign less than two weeks after first debate

Image: Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speaks at a campaign event in Cedar Ra
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speaks at a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on June 9, 2019. Copyright Scott Olson Getty Images file
By Allan Smith with NBC News Politics
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The California Democrat had struggled to gain traction in the crowded primary field.


Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., announced on Monday that he was ending his 2020 presidential bid.

He becomes the second announced candidate to formally exit the race, following former Democratic West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda's brief foray into the presidential contest earlier this year.

"I told my wife and our staff and our constituents and our supporters that we're only running for one reason — to win and make a difference," Swalwell said, adding that "being honest with ourselves, we had to look at how much money we were raising" and at polling.

Swalwell, who had built up somewhat of a national profile through his positions on the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees and sought to focus his campaign on gun control, never saw his White House bid take off as he barely registered in polling.

"Today ends our presidential campaign, but it is the beginning of an opportunity in Congress with a new perspective," Swalwell said, adding that he had "no regrets" from his short run.

During the first debate, Swalwell took aim at former Vice President Joe Biden and other older Democratic candidates, as he said they needed to "pass the torch" to a new generation of leadership. Swalwell is 38.

Swalwll recently canceled a series of July 4th events in New Hampshire, touching off rumors that he planned to exit the race.

Now, will run for re-election to his House seat. — something that had earlier been in doubt. Swalwell faces a primary challenger in that race, Hayward city council member Aisha Wahab, a progressive Afghan-American and Hayward city council member.

In February, Swalwell told the San Francisco Chronicle that if he ran for president, he would "burn the boats," and not seek re-election to a fifth term in the House. By June, Swalwell was more ambiguous in an interview with The Hill, saying: "I'm running for president right now."

"Don't have to make that decision (on the House race) until December," Swalwell said. "We need this field to start shrinking so candidates can distinguish themselves. I hope to be part of the field as it shrinks. If I don't, I'm going to be realistic about my options.

Asked who he would endorse in 2020, Swalwell on Monday praised the field and said he had not yet determined who he plans to support.

"If Megan Rapinoe gets in the race, I think I'm going to endorse her," Swalwell said of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team star.

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