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Buttigieg Suspends Campaign Just As Supporters Gather For Planned Dallas Rally

Pete Buttigieg
Matt Rourke
Associated Press
Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg walks to speaks with members of the media, Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Plains, Ga.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s decision to exit the 2020 presidential race meant he canceled his rally in Dallas on Sunday just as his supporters were gathering.

Many lingered around downtown's Main Street Garden Park as workers took down the stage and folded up chairs.

Among them was Casey Braton. She's a life-long Republican who said she’s always voted straight-ticket, but Buttigieg suspending his campaign had her choked up.

"This is the first Democrat I ever wanted to vote for and I'm really sad,” she said. “I liked him." 

Gary Bullock also stuck around to watch the cleanup. He said he was drawn to Buttigieg’s intelligence and thoughtfulness.

"I appreciated his idea of trying to be inclusive and bring people in, rather than divide,” Bullock said. “That really spoke to me."

Just two days before Super Tuesday, Bullock was especially disappointed by Buttigieg’s decision to drop out of the race because he’d already voted early for the candidate.

“We wasted the vote for Super Tuesday, but we got more votes to go,” he said. “Now, we all have to decide who our next candidate is."

Buttigieg was the first openly gay candidate to seriously contend for the presidency — and among the youngest ever.

“We send a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are somehow destined to be less than,” Buttigieg said to supporters in South Bend, Indiana Sunday. “To see that someone who once felt that exact same way can become a leading American presidential candidate with his husband by his side.”

Buttigieg said his goal was always to unify Americans, and that he'll support whoever receives the Democratic nomination. 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.