Updated at 1:15 p.m.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren ended her bid for the presidency on Thursday, acknowledging her place as the last major female candidate in the race “and all those little girls who are gonna have to wait four more years.”
The decision comes after disappointing finishes in all nominating contests so far, including Super Tuesday. She hasn’t won or come in second in any states — and finished third even in her home state of Massachusetts.
“For every American who desperately wants to see our nation healed and some decency and honor restored to our government, this fight goes on. And sure, the fight may take a new form, but I will be in that fight, and I want you in this fight with me. We will persist,” Warren told campaign staffers after announcing her decision.
Warren’s exit leaves just former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard actively seeking the Democratic nomination. Biden leads Sanders in the delegate count, with Gabbard holding just one delegate after the Super Tuesday contests.
Warren was asked by reporters outside her home in Cambridge, Mass., about which former rival she might endorse and declined to announce anything immediately. “Let’s take a deep breath and spend a little time on that. We don’t have to decide this minute,” Warren said.
In what had been a diverse field of candidates, Warren briefly led the pack nationally along with Biden in October and November, according to RealClearPolitics.
While frequently turning in strong debate performances, Warren struggled to win over voters. During a debate last month, she effectively attacked former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg over his company’s use of nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases.
As a candidate, Warren eschewed some of the traditional trappings of presidential politics. She didn’t hire a pollster and financed her campaign mostly through small-dollar contributions from supporters instead of targeting large donors. As her candidacy started to look endangered, she didn’t protest when a super PAC funded by big donors spent nearly $15 million on her behalf ahead of Super Tuesday.
Warren didn’t shy from making her gender a part of her campaign, for example, by touting her “nevertheless she persisted” slogan and taking the stage to the Dolly Parton’s anthem to working women, “9 to 5.” But she made gender just one component of her broader economic populist message, pushing child care policies alongside her raft of proposals.
Warren was asked after dropping out about the role gender played in the campaign. “That is the trap question for every woman. If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’ And if you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, what planet do you live on?” she replied. “I promise you this: I will have a lot more to say on that subject later on.”
Being the “woman with a plan” quickly became Warren’s identity on the campaign trail. It also became a liability when she started weathering attacks, first for not having a way to pay for Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal, which she supports, and then over her eventual proposal to pay for that plan. (Sanders, for his part, has not yet released a detailed plan for how he would pay for Medicare for All if he’s elected.)
While she was considered Sanders’ top competitor among progressive voters, embracing single-payer health care and wide-scale student-debt forgiveness, in the run-up to Iowa, Warren attempted to pitch herself as a unity candidate. She started explicitly thanking her fellow candidates, including those who had dropped out, for their contributions to the race.
A former Harvard Law professor whose research on personal bankruptcy led her shaped her progressive outlook, Warren entered politics via her interest in policy. She was a key architect of portions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill, especially around the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But she could not secure Senate confirmation to lead the agency and wound up successfully challenging GOP Sen. Scott Brown in 2012.
Warren was the first major Democratic candidate to step into the 2020 race, announcing an exploratory committee on Dec. 30, 2018, before formally announcing her candidacy on Feb. 9, 2019.
NPR’s Elena Moore contributed to this report.
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