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Jessica Taylor

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is officially joining the 2020 Democratic presidential race less than three months before voters start casting ballots.

"I admire and respect the candidates in the Democratic field. They bring a richness of ideas and experiences and depth of character that makes me proud to be a Democrat. But if the character of the candidates is an issue in every election, this time is about the character of the country," Patrick said in an announcement video published online Thursday morning.

Ten Democratic candidates will debate next week in the fifth primary face-off, which has increasing importance, with presidential hopefuls set to face voters in fewer than three months.

With the House set to begin public hearings Wednesday for the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the man leading the Democrats' investigation says he already sees several potential impeachable offenses Trump has committed, including bribery.

Former South Carolina Gov. and Rep. Mark Sanford has ended his long-shot Republican primary challenge to President Trump.

Sanford announced he was withdrawing Tuesday at a news conference in New Hampshire, the early primary state he had made the focus of his struggling White House bid.

Sanford blamed the impeachment inquiry against Trump for making it harder to make policy-based arguments against the president, including deficit reduction and slashing government spending.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley is endorsing her home-state senator Elizabeth Warren for president, breaking with her other high-profile freshmen female colleagues who have come to be known as "the squad."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Voters in four states head to the polls on Tuesday for general statewide elections of note. These off-year contests may not be as high profile as the 2020 presidential and congressional elections will be a year from now, but they could offer some important hints on how voters are feeling about President Trump, impeachment, guns and more.

Updated at 6:10 p.m. ET

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke ended his presidential campaign on Friday after struggling to translate the energy from his 2018 Senate bid into a successful White House campaign.

"Our campaign has been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly and acting decisively in the best interests of America," O'Rourke wrote in a statement on Medium.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has ended his struggling bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after failing to qualify for the past two primary debates.

"I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country. I look forward to continuing that fight," Ryan said Thursday in a tweet.

President Trump is chastising Republicans for not sufficiently having his back as he tries to weather an impeachment inquiry from Democrats.

"Republicans have to get tougher and fight," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting on Monday. "We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election."

Former Vice President Joe Biden called for President Trump's impeachment and removal from office, on Wednesday.

Up until now, Biden had reserved judgment, saying he supported the House's impeachment inquiry and wanted to see what the facts showed.

But in a campaign speech in Rochester, N.H., Biden was unequivocal, saying that "to preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, [Trump] should be impeached."

Biden said the case was already clear before the public.

Updated at 8:45 p.m. ET

The White House will not participate in Congress' ongoing impeachment inquiry, it said Tuesday, stepping up a political and legal standoff between the executive and legislative branches of government.

In a blistering eight-page letter to Democratic congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, White House counsel Pat Cipollone repeatedly mocked the Democrats' process.

A dozen candidates have qualified for the fourth Democratic presidential debate. They will appear together on one night, making the October faceoff the most crowded yet.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

President Trump said Wednesday that the push for his impeachment is a "hoax," again denying any wrongdoing during a July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during which he pushed for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 rival.

"No push, no pressure, no nothing — it's all a hoax, folks. It's all a big hoax," Trump said.

In an exclusive interview with NPR, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has not changed her mind on pursuing impeachment but is ready to change the law to restrain presidential power and make it clear that a sitting president can, in fact, be indicted.

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