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Friday, December 15, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said on Friday he is dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Chafee, who was polling at the bottom of the Democratic field, announced his decision in a speech to the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington.

“After much thought I have decided to end my campaign for president today,” Chafee said, before calling for the United States to stop getting involved in wars overseas, which had been a key message of his campaign.

Chafee was once a Republican, serving in the U.S. Senate after first being appointed to fill a seat his father held. After losing his second bid for re-election, he ran for governor in 2010 as an independent and won. He became a Democrat in 2012, but opted not to run for re-election in the face of low poll numbers.

Chafee’s decision narrows the Democratic field to three candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Clinton continues to hold a commanding lead in national polls.

The field of Democrats seeking the presidency in the November 2016 election had narrowed earlier this week. Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia dropped out on Tuesday and said he would explore an independent run for the White House.

On Wednesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden announced he would not seek the top job after months of indecision about whether to run. His announcement removed a potential hurdle for Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed Chafee with support from less than 1 percent of respondents.He was struggling to raise money, and by the end of September had raised only $400,000 and loaned his own campaign an additional $363,000. He ended the third quarter with $285,000 in cash.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Ginger Gibson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Jeffrey Benkoe)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee speaks at the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire September 19, 2015.      REUTERS/Brian Snyder