Rep. Tulsi Gabbard ends presidential campaign

She was the last candidate of color in the race.

March 19, 2020, 10:55 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has announced the end to her campaign following continued low placement in national polls, a weak finish during Super Tuesday and subsequent contests and failing to meet the thresholds to participate in the most recent series of Democratic National Committee sponsored debates.

In a letter to supporters, Gabbard cited that the outcome of those contests indicated that voters have chosen former Vice President Joe Biden for president.

"After Tuesday’s primary results, it is clear that Democratic Primary voters have chosen Vice President Joe Biden to be the person who will take on President Trump in the general election," she wrote. "I know Vice President Biden and his wife and am grateful to have called his son Beau, who also served in the National Guard, a friend. Although I may not agree with the Vice President on every issue, I know that he has a good heart and is motivated by his love for our country and the American people. 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."

Her departure also comes amid a coronavirus pandemic that has roiled the 2020 elections.

"Our nation is facing an unprecedented global crisis that highlights the inextricable bonds of humanity, and how foreign policy and domestic policy are inseparable. We are all in this together and we must all rise to meet this moment — in service to our country and our fellow man," she said. "

The Hawaii congresswoman announced her bid in January 2019. By the time of her departure from the race, the once diverse field of candidates dwindled leaving Gabbard the last person of color, veteran and millennial seeking a bid for the White House.

Toward the end of her run, Gabbard struggled with polling and fell short of qualifying for the Democratic debates. After missing the September debate, her campaign shifted its focus from Iowa to New Hampshire. That move was a critical life line for the congresswoman allowing her the needed polls to qualify for the October debate, which would ultimately be her last.

Despite the change in strategy, the congresswoman would face an uphill battle ultimately netting only two delegates, making her the first woman of color to net a delegate to the DNC Convention since 1972. Despite the historic turn, Gabbard was far short of the 1,991 delegates needed to secure a nomination for the first Democratic convention ballot.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard listens to a question at a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Detroit.
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard listens to a question at a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Detroit.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

When asked by ABC News in March why she continued her bid as others dropped out of the race, Gabbard said her campaign was "an opportunity to speak to Americans every single day about the sea change we need in our foreign policy."

Gabbard leaned on her youth and military service and the Iraq war veteran called to bring about an end to endless regime change wars and ran on a message calling for money spent overseas to be returned back home.

"In New Hampshire, like my community in Hawaii, communities all across the country are told over and over and over again, There's just not enough money. There's just not enough money to take care of the needs that we have here at home but there is enough money to build, you know, multi-million dollar gas stations in Afghanistan that actually aren't functional and nobody can use.”

While campaigning for president, the Hawaii congresswoman, who also serves as a major in the Army National Guard, made history leaving the campaign trail for two weeks serving on active duty in Indonesia.

October was a busy month for the congresswoman. She announced she would not be seeking re-election to her seat in Congress and sparred with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Gabbard eventually filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton on for defamation alleging that the former secretary of state suggested the congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was a "favorite of the Russians."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard answers media questions following a campaign event, Feb. 9, 2020, in Portsmouth, N.H.
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard answers media questions following a campaign event, Feb. 9, 2020, in Portsmouth, N.H.
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

At the time, Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill told CNN in response to a question about whether she was referring to Gabbard simply said "If the nesting doll fits." However later that same night Merrill clarified Clinton's comments on Twitter tweeting "Folks, listen to the podcast. She doesn't say the Russians are grooming anyone. It was a question about Republicans."

Gabbard, who is a major in the Army National Guard, deployed twice to Iraq and Kuwait, also drew criticism for her 2017 visit to Syria. While there, Gabbard accepted a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She was unapologetic of her meeting, which she said she did in the pursuit of peace.

She would often say that "the only alternative to diplomacy is war."

"If meeting with a brutal dictator, in the pursuit of national security and the pursuit of preventing more of our brothers and sisters from being sent into harm's way on missions that make our country less safe, that caused more loss of life, than I will do so," she said in August.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard answers media questions following a campaign event, Feb. 9, 2020, in Portsmouth, N.H.
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard answers media questions following a campaign event, Feb. 9, 2020, in Portsmouth, N.H.
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In December, she was the lone "present" vote for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Instead putting forth a censure resolution that suggests that the president put personal political gain over national interest.

She had often been at odds with her party, having been critical of the Democratic National Committee since stepping down as vice chair of the party in 2016 to support Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Following the delay in results from the Iowa caucuses, Gabbard had called for the resignation of DNC Chair Tom Perez. She told reporters, "This failure of leadership in the Iowa caucus has been an incredible disservice both to Iowa voters, but also to voters across the country who, as this primary election kicks off, are increasingly wondering if this system of this election is going to be fair, is it going to be transparent? Is it actually going to work? I think this is just the latest failure. "

Throughout her bid for the White House she was also dogged by questions of a possible third-party bid. Gabbard often denied seeking another party telling reporters "I am not running as a third party candidate," two days before the New Hampshire primary.

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