NEW HAVEN, Conn., 12:28 a.m. — Connecticut Senator Christopher J. Dodd gave up his long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination for president late Thursday night after a woeful showing hours earlier in the Iowa caucus.
Dodd, who was widely expected to leave the race if he did not finish fourth or better in the caucus, failed to garner one percent of the vote even after moving his young family to Iowa in the fall to enable him to campaign full-time in the state.
“Tonight I am withdrawing from the presidential race but let me assure you, we are not ending this race with our heads hanging but with our heads held high,” Dodd told about 100 supporters late Thursday night at a gathering in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I am not going anywhere,” he added, to loud cheers. “I will be fighting for the United States.”
It was not immediately clear whether Dodd would throw his support behind any of the other Democratic candidates — or whether he even had enough support for it to matter.
The Dodd campaign could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
When Dodd, 63, announced his candidacy a year ago on the “Imus in the Morning” program, he admitted he was a “dark horse” candidate. But his campaign failed to find any momentum in Iowa or anywhere else.
Front runners Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, former Senator John Edwards and Senator Barack Obama — who won the Iowa caucus on Thursday — consumed most of the oxygen in the Democratic race, and Dodd never was even able to overcome Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Bill Richardson to claim a spot at the top of the race’s second tier.
Even in his home state, Dodd’s campaign failed to gain steam. In a poll conducted by the Yale Daily News, only two-tenths of 1 percent of students supported Dodd, the senior senator from Connecticut and a native of Willimantic, Conn., about 50 miles northeast of New Haven.
With all delegates reporting early Friday morning, Dodd had captured a grand total of one delegate in all of Iowa, good for four one-hundredths of one percent, according to The Associated Press. That left Dodd in sixth place, trailing Biden, with 1 percent, and Richardson, with 2 percent.
Still, Dodd did not finish dead last. With just one delegate, Dodd bested Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Sen. Mike Gravel, both of whom did not win a single delegate.
Dodd was not the only casualty Thursday. Biden, a six-term senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also withdrew after the results from the caucus came in.
Dodd’s supporters may not have been numerous, but to the few who did support the snow-haired senior senator, Thursday’s announcement was tough to process. In Des Moines, some of Dodd’s supporters wept openly as the senator announced the end of his candidacy.
“I am very, very disappointed,” Eva Bunnell, of East Haddam, Conn., who came to Iowa to volunteer for Dodd, said after his announcement. “If the people had the opportunity to get to know him and look at his record more closely, they would see he’s a great man.”
Added John Feller, of Des Moines: “I am sad. Very sad.”
-Aaron Bray in Olympia, Wash. and The Associated Press in Des Moines, Iowa contributed reporting.