Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic senator from New York, dropped out of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday after her campaign centering on women’s equality failed to gain traction.
“After more than eight incredible months, I’m ending my presidential campaign,” Gillibrand said in a video announcing the end of her run.
“I know this isn’t the result we wanted, we wanted to win this race. But it’s important to know when it’s not your time.”
Gillibrand, 52, rarely received more than one percent in polling. She appeared unlikely to meet the Democratic Party’s more stringent requirements for making the stage in the next presidential debate, set for September 12.
She had challenged former vice president Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, on his record on women’s issues, especially his support when he was a US senator for a law that bars federal funding for abortion.
But several of her rivals, including three other female senators in the crowded Democratic race, are also vocally pro-choice, and her policy prescriptions including those aimed at helping working families never quite caught on with voters.
Gillibrand, who prided herself on winning a House seat in 2006 in a largely Republican district before moving to the Senate, said her mission now was to help the future Democratic nominee defeat the incumbent president.
“I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020,” she said.
Trump, invoking his typical mockery of opposition party candidates, called Gillibrand’s exit “a sad day for the Democrats.”
“I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!”
Gillibrand is the fifth candidate in the sprawling field to throw in the towel, and others may exit in coming days ahead of the next debate.
Only 10 of the remaining 20 candidates have met the qualifying criteria for the debate – based on poll numbers and fundraising – and most of those are still struggling to catch up with leaders Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.
Further winnowing could come Thursday when the party is likely to announce the candidates who officially earned a spot in the September debate.
Gillibrand’s departure brought warm words from her former 2020 rivals, including fellow Senator Cory Booker, who called her “one of the most righteous fighters I know.”