Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is suspending her longshot campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and throwing her support behind former Vice President Joe Biden, the Hawaii congresswoman announced on Thursday.
“I owe you an incredible debt of gratitude for all you’ve done as the heart and soul of our people-powered campaign: Today, I’ve made the decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency,” Gabbard said in a note to her campaign’s supporters. Gabbard, who is not running for reelection to Congress, pointed to the coronavirus pandemic as part of her motivation for ending her presidential campaign, writing that “the best way I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress, and to stand ready to serve in uniform should the Hawaii National Guard be activated.”
In a video published on social media on Thursday morning, Gabbard said that while she does not agree with Biden on every issue, “I know that he has a good heart and is motivated by his love for our country and the American people.”
Gabbard continued: “I’m confident that he will lead our country guided by the spirit of aloha—respect and compassion—and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart. So today, I’m suspending my presidential campaign, and offering my full support to Vice President Joe Biden in his quest to bring our country together.”
The endorsement comes as something of a surprise. Gabbard’s presidential campaign revolved around her experience as a combat veteran of the war in Iraq, a war she came to deeply criticize and for which Biden voted. In 2016, Gabbard resigned as a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) presidential campaign that cycle, whom she said “will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars and regime change.”
Gabbard’s chances at winning the Democratic nomination were vanishingly low from the beginning of her campaign, which got off to a halting start when she lost her campaign manager and consultants just weeks after announcing her campaign in January 2019.
The Hawaii congresswoman became a darling in conservative media circles for her willingness to eschew party orthodoxy on foreign policy and her willingness to attack fellow presidential hopefuls in early debates. Her decision to vote “present” in the House vote on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, too, was wildly popular with conservatives.