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The egos have landed ahead of Super Tuesday

Posted March 3, 2020 12:26 p.m. EST

— The egos have landed.

Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have reluctantly shelved once-soaring White House dreams. The former mayor from South Bend, Indiana, and the senator from Minnesota have quit the Democratic race, after billionaire Tom Steyer's weekend exit. Buttigieg endorsed Joe Biden on Monday night, and Klobuchar was expected to follow. All three are allowing back-from-the-dead Biden to consolidate the party's center lane -- just in time for the crucial 14-state Super Tuesday primaries.

It's awfully hard to fold a presidential campaign. Previously obscure politicians learn to love being famous. They roam the country basking in big crowds multiple times a day. TV anchors and packs of reporters suddenly care what they think. It's an intoxicating ego trip. But sooner or later a candidate must look themselves in the mirror and ask whether they can justify going on.

Both Buttigieg and Klobuchar still want to be president.There's just no path to get there. Biden's big win in South Carolina on Saturday restored him to pole position among moderates, and their lame numbers among African Americans mean they can't beat him. Now the pressure to quit is on Mike Bloomberg — who has already dropped $500 million on the race.

Buttigieg and Klobuchar are also protecting their own careers. Both are like stocks riding record highs, so it makes sense to cash in now. Klobuchar has sidestepped the potential embarrassment of losing her home state of Minnesota to Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, and will find herself high on the list of potential vice presidential picks. And Buttigieg has been transformed from a nobody to a Democratic rock star -- and a top-tier candidate for a future presidential race. If a fellow Democrat becomes president and grants the 38-year-old a top Cabinet post, it would also end future questions about his inexperience as a small-town mayor.

They're gone for now, but Buttigieg and Klobuchar won't be forgotten.

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