Pete Buttigieg, the former South Bend Indiana mayor who made an ambitious run for US president, has announced he is ending his campaign for the White House.
The 38-year-old became the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major party when he announced he was running for the Democratic nomination.
But despite a successful start, his campaign lost momentum in recent weeks, forcing him to pull the plug.
His decision to drop out comes ahead of a key day on Tuesday in the Democratic race to take on Trump.
Fourteen states will vote on Super Tuesday, by the end of which staunch left-winger Bernie Sanders could have an unbeatable lead and be a step closer to the nomination.
His departure leaves six Democrats still in the running – Joe Biden, Mr Sanders, Michael Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Kobluchar and Tulsi Gabbard.
Speaking to supporters in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Buttigieg stressed the values he said his campaign had hoped to promote.
“And so we must recognise that at this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and ideals is to step aside and help bring our party and our nation together,” he said.
“So tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency.”
He pledged he would do “everything in my power” to ensure a Democratic win in November’s election.
Mr Buttigieg surprisingly, and narrowly, won the first event of the primary season, the caucuses in Iowa on 3 February. But he failed to repeat that success and win the delegates needed to make him the front- runner and later confirm his nomination. He finished a distant fourth in South Carolina on Saturday.
His husband, Chasten, also addressed crowds of supporters in South Bend, saying: “About a year and a half ago, my husband came home from work and told me – well he asked me: ‘What do you think about running for president?’ And I laughed! Not at him, but at life.
“Life gave me some interesting experiences, on my way to find Pete. After falling in love with Pete, Pete got me to believe in myself… and I told Pete to run [for office] because I knew there were other kids sitting out there in this country who needed to believe in themselves, too.”
Mr Biden praised Mr Buttigieg’s campaigning effort in a tweet.
.@PeteButtigieg ran a historic, trail-blazing campaign based on courage, compassion, and honesty. We will be a better country for his continued service. This is just the beginning of his time on the national stage.
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) March 2, 2020