U.S. Representative Seth Moulton ends bid for Democratic presidential nomination

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - U.S. Representative Seth Moulton, who mounted a long-shot bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, ended his campaign on Friday, warning that the party must now decide how far left it wants to move.

"Today, I want to use this opportunity ... to announce that I am ending my campaign for president," Moulton will say at a speech before the Democratic National Committee meeting in San Francisco, according to remarks provided by his campaign.

"Though this campaign is not ending the way we hoped, I am leaving this race knowing that we raised issues that are vitally important to the American people and our future."

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Moulton, a 40-year-old Iraq War veteran who plans to seek re-election to the district he represents in Massachusetts, failed to garner the support he needed to qualify for any of debates. Without appearing in those nationally televised events, he had little hope of gaining traction.

He is the third Democrat to end a presidential campaign this month. Washington Governor Jay Inslee dropped out of the race earlier this week, and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper did so the week before.

Moulton stopped short of endorsing one of his rivals for the nomination but said the crowded race with more than 20 Democrats appeared to have narrowed. The nominee will take on President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee, in November 2020.

"I think it’s evident that this is now a three-way race between (former Vice President Joe) Biden, (U.S. Senator Elizabeth) Warren and (U.S. Senator Bernie) Sanders, and really it’s a debate about how far left the party should go,” Moulton told the New York Times in an interview ahead of his announcement.

Biden represents the more centrist faction of the Democratic Party, while Warren, of Massachusetts, and Sanders, of Vermont, back more liberal policies.

Other Democrats who fail to qualify for the third debate, which will be held on Sept. 12-13 in Houston, may also feel pressure to exit the race. Candidates must have at least 130,000 unique donors and reach 2% in four opinion polls by Aug. 28 to qualify.

Those who have yet to qualify include U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado and Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Moulton built his political career by challenging the party's establishment. After the Democrats regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, Moulton helped organize opposition to Representative Nancy Pelosi's bid to again become speaker of the House. He failed at that effort.

He used his presidential campaign to draw attention to veterans issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and access to healthcare.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)

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