(ABC NEWS) – Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has ended his bid for the presidency.
Yang was widely regarded as a breakthrough candidate who surpassed the expectation of many as he outlasted sitting senators, former governors and other lifelong politicians as political newcomer. Yang has never held an elected position, yet generated a strong following that carried him through multiple Democratic debates.
Yang ran on a promise to deliver the “Freedom Dividend,” his signature universal basic income policy that would give $1000 a month to every American over the age of 18 who opts in. Despite it being one of the main reasons people were drawn to his campaign, the idea never caught on among his fellow Democratic candidates.
“Universal Basic Income is obviously the flagship proposal of my campaign,” he said at an event in New Hampshire. “There are many other things I’m very passionate about, but universal basic income is the single most powerful and effective thing we can do to improve our way of life very very quickly.
“The problems aren’t likely to go away and as long as the problems are still there, I’d like to help solve them,” he said. “So certainly I’m very open to running again if that’s the best way to serve.”
Yang often touted that one of his key qualifications to be president of the United States was his track record of creating “thousands of jobs.” His claim to the title rested largely on Venture for America, an innovative nonprofit he launched in 2011 with a clear objective: Create 100,000 new jobs by 2025 by placing top college graduates at startups across the country.
Several economists described the project as a worthy cause, one designed to address a vexing problem, but nearly a decade after its launch — despite Yang’s campaign trail assertions to the contrary — Venture for America’s actual impact has not kept pace with its founder’s ambition. Until recently, Venture for America’s own website touted just 365 jobs created by 129 fellow-founded companies.
On the trail, Yang’s rallies were marked by an energetic atmosphere and interactive speeches where attendees were asked to raise their hands at certain times to make his points about how automation was affecting their lives.
His animated fan base iconized the candidate, spreading his message through music, video games, and cartoons they would create about him. Question remain as to what if any, other candidate will appeal to his loyal supporters and if they’ll choose to vote for anyone else.
In December, he became the only candidate of color to make the debate stage after California Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out. His absence in the field now leaves few candidates of color still in the race.
At the start of his “A New Way Forward” bus tour through Iowa, Yang expressed remorse that he’d be the only person of color on the debate stage saying that he would “miss” Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who didn’t qualify for the debate. Both of those candidates eventually ended their presidential bids.
Though he has proudly touted diversity, Yang, the first Asian-American to run for president, has also been criticized for using racial stereotypes during his speeches.
When making his case for his candidacy, Yang often said that, “the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who like Math.” Yang also wears a pin on his lapel that says “MATH”, an acronym for one of his campaign’s slogans, “make America think harder.” In the September Democratic debate, Yang told the audience, “I’m Asian so I know a lot of doctors.”
Following the Iowa caucuses, Yang laid off a number of campaign staffers there. Campaign manager Zach Graumann said the layoffs had nothing to do with Yang’s performance in Iowa and were always planned to take place. However, news of the layoffs came as a surprise to some who were expecting to learn where they would be reassigned to work after the Iowa caucuses.
“Some people were surprised — some people were expecting to go to New Hampshire,” a staffer, who was not laid off, told ABC News earlier in February. New Hampshire is where we’re stronger so hopefully we’ll do better there.”
In another pivotal moment for the campaign, the former presidential candidate’s wife, Evelyn Yang, came forward with claims that she was sexually assaulted by her OBGYN while she was pregnant with her first son, revelations she said she shared on CNN to help other women.
Yang later tweeted, “I love my wife very very much” and expressed support for her in sharing the experience.
Ultimately, Yang’s postmortem on his campaign was perhaps best summed up by his sentiments in touting his success, implying he had outlasted people’s expectations for his campaign.
“The candidate that no one saw coming just beat out a dozen or more senators, governors, Congress people to make that debate stage,” he told a crowd in Des Moines. “And I will say I am proud to be the only person of color who is going to be on that stage next week. That is the will of the people, this bus tour is the will of the people.”