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Presidential Candidate Lawrence Lessig Had to Quit the Race to Get the Media's Attention

The Harvard law professor blamed the Democratic party for "changing the rules" to qualify for debates and preventing him getting face time on national television.

by VICE News
Nov 2 2015, 6:35pm

Image via YouTube

Lawrence Lessig, the presidential candidate you probably didn't know was running, received more publicity on Monday than at any other time during his short-lived campaign when he announced he is dropping out of the race, leaving just three candidates to contend for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

The Harvard law professor announced his resignation in a YouTube video that blamed the Democratic party for "changing the rules" in debates, which wouldn't have allowed the candidate, who registered less than 1 percent support in various polls, to get any face time on national television — something he said was "the essential step in this campaign."

Related: Lincoln Chafee Abandons Presidential Campaign. Public Asks, 'Lincoln Who?'

"I may be known in tiny corners of the Tubes of the Internets [sic], but I am not known well to the American public generally," Lessig said. "Last week, we learned that the Democratic party has changed its rules for inclusion in the debate, and under the new rule, unless we can time travel, there is no way that I will qualify."

In an op-ed published on Monday in the Huffington Post, one of Lessig's campaign consultants, Steve Jarding, said that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) originally told the campaign that Lessig would need to achieve a 1 percent margin in three polls within the six weeks leading up to a debate, a mark that Lessig said in his that he was "close to achieving." Jardin claimed, however, that the DNC later changed its mind and said that candidates would have to accomplish the same poll numbers at leastsix weeks before the debate, meaning Lessig would have had to qualify four weeks ago for the debate on November 14.

"It is now clear that the party won't let me be a candidate — and I can't ask people to support a campaign that I know can't even get before the members of the Democratic Party; or to ask my team or my family to make a sacrifice even greater than what they've already made," Lessig said.

Lessig, 54, announced in August that he would run for president if he was able to to crowdfund $1 million in less than 30 days. He declared his candidacy on September 6 after raising the money through small donations. The professor pledged to enact campaign finance reforms, and vowed to to "fix the failed institution at the core of our democracy," referring to Congress, which he twice called "crippled and corrupt" in his video on Monday.

Last month, Lessig said he had no intention of dropping out of Democratic primary like Jim Webb, who quit the race on October 20 citing differences with the Democratic party. Lessig insisted that Webb's situation was "quite different" from his own, and pleaded with the DNC for "fairness" and a "chance to make his case."

Related: Jim Webb Quits Democratic Primary but Hints at Independent Bid for President

Lessig reversed course on Monday, saying he "must" end his campaign for the Democratic nomination while still promising to "press" for reforms. "No doubt a better candidate could have gone further, though I doubt anyone could have worked harder," he said.

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