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Gephardt to drop out of race

Congressman of 14 terms has said he won't seek re-election

Dick Gephardt talks to supporters Monday night after finishing fourth in the Iowa caucuses.
Dick Gephardt talks to supporters Monday night after finishing fourth in the Iowa caucuses.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- With an expected announcement Tuesday that he is dropping out of the presidential race, the Iowa caucuses might prove to be the swan song of Rep. Dick Gephardt's long political career.

The 14-term congressman had pinned his hopes of reaching the White House on an early campaign victory in Iowa, where he won during a previous presidential bid in 1988.

Gephardt will announce he is dropping out of the race at 1 p.m. Tuesday (2 p.m. ET) at the Americas Center in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, CNN has learned.

Gephardt, who was first elected to Congress from Missouri in 1976 and served as House majority leader from 1989 to 1995, previously announced that he would not run for re-election, in order to focus on the presidential race.

The campaign came to an inglorious end in Iowa, where despite predictions of victory, Gephardt finished a distant fourth. (Full story)

"This didn't come out the way we wanted, but I've been through tougher fights in my life. When I watched my 2-year-old son fight terminal cancer and win, it puts everything into perspective," he said.

Gephardt, a longtime workers' rights advocate, added: "My campaign for working people may be ending tonight, but our fight will never end."

Some of his supporters shouted "We love you" as he spoke.

CNN has learned that Gephardt will announce he is dropping out of the race at 1 p.m. Tuesday (2 p.m. ET) at the Americas Center in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

In his speech to supporters in Iowa, Gephardt pledged his support to the eventual Democratic nominee, saying he would help him "any way I can."

"We will reclaim the White House in 2004," Gephardt said, "because we have to." (Transcript)

Gephardt seemed resigned to his fate during the speech -- which at times seemed like part of a memorial service.

"Life will go on because this campaign was never about me," he said. "It was about all of us. It was about our future, and our children, and the America ahead of us.

"I consider myself to be the luckiest person alive. I have a wonderful family, I have fabulous friends ... I was able to run for president twice, and I loved every minute of it."

Gephardt won the caucuses in 1988 in an unsuccessful quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, and once described Iowa as a must-win contest for him to continue in the current race.

Just before the caucuses began, Gephardt had predicted he would win.

"We think we're going to have a victory, and we're excited about it," he told CNN.


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