Democrat John Delaney 'certainly' plans to stay in 2020 race even if he misses fall debates

Key Points
  • John Hickenlooper might have dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, but at least one of his fellow long shots, businessman and former Rep. John Delaney, plans to stick around for a while.
  • The Delaney campaign told CNBC on Thursday that the one-time Maryland lawmaker is going to ride out the race until at least the Iowa caucuses in February, even if he doesn't qualify for the party's fall debates.
  • Delaney, a millionaire businessman, has the financial resources to stay in the hunt. "Unlike other candidates, we have the finances to support ourselves," a spokesman says.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Rep. John Delaney delivers a 20-minute campaign speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair August 09, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

John Hickenlooper might have dropped out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, but at least one of his fellow long shots, businessman and former Rep. John Delaney, plans to stick around for a while.

The Delaney campaign told CNBC on Thursday that the one-time Maryland lawmaker is going to ride out the race until at least the Iowa caucuses in February, even if he doesn't qualify for the party's fall debates.

And a big reason is because Delaney, a millionaire businessman, has the financial resources to stay in the hunt.

"We certainly intend to ride this out until Iowa," said Michael Hopkins, the Delaney campaign's national press secretary. "Unlike other candidates, we have the finances to support ourselves."

The goal is slightly less ambitious than what Delaney had in mind much earlier in the race.

Delaney told CNBC's John Harwood in December that he has the ability to finance his campaign through the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. They are the first contests of next year's primary season.

Delaney is currently polling at 0.4% in national Democratic polling, according to a RealClearPolitics average.

To qualify for the fall debates, candidates need to reach a threshold of 130,000 unique donors and poll above 2% in at least four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee.

The campaign's announcement is a sharp turnaround from a month ago, when reports surfaced that staffers in Delaney's campaign asked him to drop out, who claimed Delaney was being influenced by outside forces, including his wife April.

Delaney has been in the race since July 2017 and has staked his campaign largely on winning over voters in Iowa. Delaney routinely boasts that he is the only candidate so far to have visited all of Iowa's 99 counties.

"We're going to run a major campaign in 2019. I'm going to be all over Iowa and New Hampshire," he said in December.

Delaney has emerged as a key moderate voice in the Democratic primary. He has served as a foil to the more liberal members of the party, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who are polling near the top of the pack under former Vice President Joe Biden.

Delaney most notably sparred with both Warren and Sanders during the second set of debates in July, calling their "Medicare for All" proposals "political suicide."

Warren's incredulous response to Delaney's criticism triggered applause and lit up social media.

"I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for. I don't get it," she said.

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Former Rep. John Delaney on health care