Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced Tuesday that he is suspending his campaign for president after failing to qualify for the first Republican primary debate last week in Milwaukee.
"Running for President of the United States has been one of the greatest honors of my life," Suarez said. "This country has given so much to my family and me. The prospect of giving back at the highest levels of public service is a motivator if not a calling. Throughout this process, I have met so many freedom-loving Americans who care deeply about our nation, her people, and its future. It was a privilege to come so close to appearing on stage with the other candidates at last week's first debate."
"While I have decided to suspend my campaign for President, my commitment to making this a better nation for every American remains," Suarez added.
Republican presidential candidate Miami Mayor Francis Suarez speaks at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 2023 Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, July 28, 2023.Charlie Neibergall/AP
The decision marks days of disputed back and forth between his team and the Republican National Committee over whether he would make it on the stage.
Ultimately, the RNC said he hadn't met all of their polling and donor benchmarks — despite claiming otherwise.
He had released a social media video saying he had qualified and urging supporters to tune in.
"I am so excited to be able to deliver my message of prosperity to the entire nation, to introduce myself to the nation," he said. "This is the beginning of an incredible moment for our country and for our city. I want you all to watch and be a part of it."
The mayor's campaign also shared with the Associated Press portions of an email he said he had received from RNC staff which indicated the committee had reserved more than 100 tickets in Milwaukee for his campaign.
But the outlet later reported that the mayor's team had omitted a portion of the email exchange which included a disclaimer that the tickets would be canceled if Suarez failed to meet the debate criteria.
The 45-year-old Suarez, who announced his candidacy in June with an ad showing him running through Miami, pitched himself as an effective leader with the youthful presence needed in the White House.
But his campaign became more known for gaffes and gimmicks, as when in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt he appeared to not know about the Uyghurs, a repressed ethnic minority in western China.
“What’s a Uyghur?” he asked Hewitt.
And in an effort to meet the debate criteria of 40,000 individual donors, Suarez had offered unusual rewards for people who gave his campaign a single dollar, including entrance into a raffle for tickets to Lionel Messi's first game in Major League Soccer.
The week before the debate, Suarez suggested that candidates unable to qualify for the first debate should consider dropping out of the race, telling ABC News' Rachel Scott, "Being honest, I think, remember, it only gets harder from here, right?"
"It's harder to make higher thresholds when you're not making lower thresholds."