The New Jersey senator struggled to raise money and was mired in the low single digits in polls.

The first question Cory Booker was asked as a candidate outside his home on a frigid Friday last February was about his campaign message: Was a message of love tough enough to take on Donald Trump?

Love isn’t easy, Booker said, but the people he admired most, like Alice Paul, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement, led with love.

“I believe in these values,” Booker said then. “I’m gonna put them before the American people. Hey, and if that’s not what they want, then I won’t be the next president of the United States.”

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Booker accepted that reality Monday, when a campaign that drew dozens of national and local reporters to a Newark neighborhood on its Feb. 1 launch day ended in an email and Medium post before any votes were cast.

By most accounts, Booker was a great messenger with a unique résumé: a skilled orator who once saved a woman from a burning house, an All-American athlete who played football at Stanford, a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, a graduate of Yale Law who rose from city council to become one of three African Americans currently serving in the U.S. Senate.

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