Billionaire Tom Steyer drops out of presidential race

Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer announced Saturday night he was ending his campaign for the Democratic nomination after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary.

“I said if I didn’t see a path to winning that I would suspend my campaign and honestly I don’t see a path where I can win the presidency,” said Steyer at an event in Columbia, adding that he would “of course” be supporting the eventual nominee because they’re all “a million times better than Trump.”

Steyer had spent over $22 million in South Carolina, far more than his competitors, but may not secure a single delegate from the state after finishing third behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. He also invested heavily in Nevada but finished a disappointing fifth in last weekend’s caucuses with just 4.7 percent of the vote. Steyer has spent at least $200 million of his personal fortune on the race.

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The Democratic debate in South Carolina
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The Democratic debate in South Carolina
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participate the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) (R) look on during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) interact at a break during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden participate the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg speak after the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful billionaire activist Tom Steyer gives an interview in the spin room after participating in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tom Steyer speak after the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders participate in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) interact at a break during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg gives an interview in the spin room after participating in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar hugs a man in the spin room after participating in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gives an interview in the spin room after participating in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gives an interview in the spin room after participating in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to media in the spin room after the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg participates in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks to an audience member after the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) interact during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) (L) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) interact during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) interact at a break during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer (R) speaks as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reacts during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) looks on during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) participate the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Members of the media, in the spin room, watch the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) speaks as former Vice President Joe Biden reacts during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (L) and former Vice President Joe Biden speak during a break at the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(L-R) Democratic presidential hopefuls former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and billionaire activist Tom Steyer participate in the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by JIM WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on stage during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in four days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Members of the media, in the spin room, watch the tenth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 25, 2020. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)
CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tom Steyer participate in the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020 in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute, ahead of South Carolina’s primary in 4 days. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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The billionaire was a late entrant in the race, changing his mind after initially saying he wouldn’t run and jumping into the field in July. Using his personal fortune to solicit donors  on social media and leaning on the email list he had accrued with an impeachment campaign against President Trump, Steyer was able to qualify for the October debates, leading to complaints from some of the other candidates in the race that he had bought his placement with the frontrunners.

Steyer made a focus of trying to attract African-American voters, stating in nearly every debate that he was the only candidate on stage in favor of reparations for slavery. His expenditures in South Carolina divided Democrats there, with some accusations that he was attempting to buy support. Steyer was also outspoken in his support for emergency action on climate change, which he also tied to race.

“I believe that in every major policy area, there is an unspoken area about race,” Steyer said in a January interview with Yahoo News. “For instance, I’m saying climate is my No. 1 priority. I’m also saying our climate plan is called a justice-based climate plan. And it starts in the communities, like say, Denmark, S.C., or Flint, Mich., where people can’t drink the water. We know who lives there: African-Americans. We know who lives in the San Joaquin Valley where people can’t drink the water safely out of the taps: low-income Latinos.”

Compared to the vitriol faced by former New York City Mike Bloomberg, the second billionaire to enter the Democratic race, Steyer was generally well-received by his fellow candidates. He briefly became a meme after an awkward moment following the conclusion of January’s debate, where he was attempting to say hello to Sanders while the senator was having a conversation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In another debate moment, Steyer said he disagreed with former nominee Hillary Clinton’s statement that nobody liked Sanders. 

Last year, Steyer also went out of his way to defend former Vice President Joe Biden after Trump urged foreign governments to help investigate Biden and his son Hunter, eventually leading to the president’s impeachment by the House and acquittal by the Senate.

“This is an attempted smear by the Trump campaign. Just the way he tried to smear Hillary Clinton,” Steyer said in a September interview with Yahoo News. “I think that Mr. Biden should be left out of this. I don’t think he’s done anything wrong. I think a bunch of newspapers looked at it and decided he hadn’t done anything wrong.”

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