"He’s finished. His party needed him to stay and fight, and he ran away."

“His high-water mark was that speech, and he flopped, and that killed the buzz about him being a serious presidential contender,” said Brian Vargus, a longtime Indiana University politics professor who has closely followed Bayh’s career for more than two decades.

“That was it for the presidential stuff,” one longtime Bayh confidant said of that moment 13-plus years ago…

Now Bayh finds himself the subject of scorn from Democrats, who accuse him of abandoning his party and his colleagues at a time when they desperately need him to help save their suddenly imperiled majority in the Senate.

“He’s finished,” said one Democratic political consultant active in national races. “His party needed him to stay and fight, and he ran away. People won’t forget.”