Kirsten Gillibrand ends Democrat presidential bid after failing to make next debate
Kirsten Gillibrand, the liberal New York senator who champions women’s equality, has dropped out of the race to become the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nominee.
Ms Gillibrand pulled the plug on her White House bid on Wednesday after failing to qualify for the third candidates’ debate in Texas next month.
The 52-year-old’s championing of progressive causes and vocal support for the ‘Me Too’ movement had seen some tipping her with a chance to do well in the Democrat primaries.
However her candidacy failed to ignite unlike other female senators such as Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, with her nationwide poll numbers not rising from low single digits.
During the first two debates – the most high-profile events of the campaign so far – Ms Gillibrand did not secure a single breakout moment that was replayed often on cable news, missing an opportunity to build momentum.
Announcing her decision to end her bid in a New York Times interview, Ms Gillibrand acknowledged not making the third debate was a factor in her decision.
“I think being able to have a voice on a debate stage, when other candidates have that, is really important,” Ms Gillibrand said. “And without it, I just didn’t see our path.”
Donald Trump, the US president, reacted to the news with a deadpan tweet, calling it a "sad day" and joking: "I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!”
Ms Gillibrand took over Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate seat when the latter became US secretary of state but later publicly broke with her predecessor by criticising Bill Clinton’s past behavior towards women.
The senator has said she will endorse another primary candidate but is yet to make up her mind. She hinted a woman could get her support, telling the New York Times: “I think a woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting.”
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Her departure from the race follows a flurry of other recent drop-outs as the qualification criteria for the official debates is tightened.
To make the debate stage in Houston, Texas, next month candidates must have polled above 2 per cent in four opinion polls and attracted at least 130,000 different donors.
The tough rules have seen candidates burning through large amounts of money attracting small donors, by some estimates spending up to $70 dollars to gain a single new $1 donor.
It has raised questions about whether the new rules, designed to avoid the free-for-all debates which characterised the Republican presidential primaries in 2012 and 2016, are actually limiting the field too early.
Jay Inslee, the Washington governor who based his campaign around climate change, and John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor, have both quit their presidential bids in recent weeks.
Joe Biden, the former US vice president, remains the clear front-runner in the race to take on Mr Trump in the November 2020 election. Voting for the Democrat nominee begins in February.