Will Rep. Eric Swalwell be the first White House hopeful to drop out of the race?
The congressman from California and long-shot for the Democratic presidential nomination will hold a news conference Monday afternoon at his campaign headquarters. The development comes five days after Swalwell abruptly canceled a July 4 campaign swing in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.
And it comes as the congressman struggles in the polls and faces the possibility of not making the stage at the second round of Democratic presidential primary debates later this month.
Swalwell’s campaign has been mum on the reason for the cancellation of the New Hampshire trip and for the news conference.
The congressman nevertheless remained active on his campaign Twitter account this weekend. “Appreciate the support!! That's right--all it takes is $1 to guarantee the strongest candidate on ending gun violence is on the debate stage,” he wrote on Friday.
While Swalwell holds a news conference, former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is campaigning Monday in Iowa, the state that votes first in the presidential caucus and primary calendar.
Hickenlooper is vowing – for now – to stay in the White House race. The move comes less than a week after some of his senior staffers – including his campaign manager – jumped ship. Sources close to the former staffers tell Fox News that they left after urging Hickenlooper to consider a plan B, which could include taking on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who faces a tough re-election.
The sources said the former governor didn’t agree with their strategy.
Like Swalwell, Hickenlooper has failed to gain traction in the polls and has severely struggled to raise campaign cash. While it’s likely he’ll make the debate stage later this month, the odds he could qualify for the third round – which will be held in early September – are slim, as the Democratic National Committee is dramatically raising the thresholds for candidates to qualify.
The former governor remained optimistic but acknowledged the steep uphill climb he’s facing as he spoke to a crowd at a campaign event in Iowa Sunday night.
“I realize I’m at 1 percent in the polls, and you know some of my own staff said, ‘Run for Senate’! I think Iowa is where that can be changed,” he noted.
The moves by Swalwell and Hickenlooper come as the nearly two-dozen candidates get ready to reveal their second-quarter fundraising figures, which must be reported to the Federal Election Commission in a week. Those figures will include the total number of individuals who’ve contributed to the campaigns.
One of the thresholds to qualify for the third round of debates is having 130,000 contributions from individual donors. And for lower-tier candidates far from reaching that criteria, the likely prospect of not making the stage come September increases.
“The field looks likely to contract significantly ahead of the September debates,” predicted veteran campaign and communications specialist Lynda Tran, a founding partner of 270 Strategies.
“If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on no more than half the field making the stage in September. For those that don’t cross the donor and polling thresholds, the situation becomes quite bleak thereafter,” added Tran, a veteran of the Democratic National Committee and Organizing for America.
She said she expects “the lowest and middle tier campaigns to spend what they can in online ads to drive up the number of individual donors. We all know that things can turn on a dime in any campaign cycle, much less one that has so many contenders vying for their 'viral moment.'”
The upcoming debate is the likely best chance for the long-shot contenders to break away from the rest of the historically large pack.
Hickenlooper told the crowd in Iowa that he's working on his debate skills so he can become a better presidential candidate.
"I am already ten times better at debating than I was six months ago,” he touted.