Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced that she is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race on Wednesday.
“After more than eight months, and with clarity that she will not have access to the September debate stage, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is suspending her campaign for president today,” a memo from her campaign read.
“While this is not the result we wanted, Kirsten is proud of her aggressive, innovative and policy-driven campaign, and has never been more optimistic about Democrats’ chances to defeat President Trump and lay the foundation for our country’s future,” the memo continued.
The announcement came after Gillibrand failed to make the September debate stage before the Wednesday cutoff. Other female candidates like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made the cut while Gillibrand, author Marianne Williamson, and Sen. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) did not.
“I think being able to have a voice on a debate stage, when other candidates have that, is really important,” Gillibrand told The New York Times. “And without it, I just didn’t see our path.”
Now out of the race, the New York senator also told the Times she would back whoever the Democratic nominee turned out to be.
“I will support whoever the nominee is, and I will do whatever it takes to beat Trump,” she was quoted saying.
However, she said a woman nominee would have a “unique ability” to “bring people together and heal this country.”
The campaign's memo said Gillibrand's new efforts—along with helping Democrats win in 2020—would go towards flipping the Senate for the Democrats and getting more women elected across the board.
“It’s the only way we can repair our moral fabric and protect everything we care about,” the memo read.
Gillibrand’s campaign struggled to gain momentum since launching in late March. A popular senator from one of the biggest and most powerful states in the country, the New York Democrat failed to attract the kind of widespread appeal that has increasingly become required to move forward in the presidential nominating process.
She frequently polled in the low single digits, despite barnstorming the country and paying particular focus on the early voting states. Early on, Gillibrand was sidelined from some high-dollar party donors for leading the charge against her former Senate colleague, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who was credibly accused of multiple accounts of sexual harassment.
While other 2020 contenders joined Gillibrand’s calls for Franken to resign, no other Democrat faced constant questions about their thought process. Gillibrand recently explained in The New York Times’ “The Daily” podcast that she had called on him to step down because she simply “couldn’t defend him.”
While routinely fielding questions about Franken, much of Gillibrand’s campaign focused on women’s equality, an issue she pledged to still fight for as she continues her political career in the Senate. But in announcing her withdrawal on Wednesday, she became the first female candidate to drop out of the race, leaving Harris, Warren, Williamson, Klobuchar, and Gabbard to compete.
“In a historically large field, Kirsten distinguished herself as the fiercest fighter for women and families. She took bold stances that pushed her Democratic opponents to follow suit, from her Family Bill of Rights to the first comprehensive reproductive rights plan in the field. Overall, Kirsten rolled out more than fifteen policy proposals,” her campaign noted.