Elizabeth Warren ends presidential bid, declines to make an endorsement

Christopher Wilson
Senior Writer

Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Thursday the end of her campaign for the presidency after a poor showing on Super Tuesday that included a third-place finish in her home state of Massachusetts.

Warren informed campaign staff of her decision to drop out of the race on a conference call Thursday morning.

“I know that when we set out, this was not the call you ever wanted to hear. It is not the call I ever wanted to make,” she said. “But I refuse to let disappointment blind me — or you — to what we’ve accomplished. We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together — what you have done — has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters. And the changes will have ripples for years to come.

“So take some time to be with your friends and family, to get some sleep, maybe to get that haircut you’ve been putting off,” she added. “Do things to take care of yourselves, gather up your energy, because I know you are coming back. I know you — and I know that you aren’t ready to leave this fight.”

Warren did not mention a possible endorsement in her call. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that she has had discussions with both Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden in recent days.

Elizabeth Warren talks to reporters outside her house in Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Speaking to reporters outside her Cambridge, Mass., home, Warren expressed her gratitude for “every single person who just moved a little in their notion of what a president of the United States should look like.”

“I will not be running for president in 2020,” she said. “But I guarantee I will stay in the fight.”

Asked who her supporters should now support, Warren said: “Let’s take a deep breath and spend a little time on it — we don’t have that this minute.”

Sanders praised Warren and her campaign in a pair of tweets.

Biden did, too.

“Senator @EWarren is the fiercest of fighters for middle class families,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Her work in Washington, in Massachusetts, and on the campaign trail has made a real difference in people’s lives. We needed her voice in this race, and we need her continued work in the Senate.”

He also relayed a message to Bailey, Warren’s golden retriever.

“Champ and Major would love to have you over any time,” Biden tweeted.

The two-term Democratic senator officially launched her campaign in February 2019 and rolled out so many legislative proposals that “I have a plan for that” became her go-to slogan. Her campaign leaned heavily on her biography, a story that took her from a working-class family in Oklahoma to the Harvard faculty and eventually the U.S. Senate. 

Her launch was overshadowed by a controversy over her assertion of Native American descent, which she clumsily handled by submitting to a DNA test, and for which President Trump mocked her with the nickname “Pocahontas.” 

Despite a rocky launch, Warren’s mix of wonkiness and affability resulted in a steady rise in the polls through much of 2019, and by the fall she was a clear frontrunner for the nomination. But she alienated moderates who were worried by her big-spending proposals while struggling to hold on to progressive voters who began to coalesce around Sanders. 

Her campaign’s troubles began shortly after she began leading the Democratic field in October. Sanders was forced to leave the campaign for several days after suffering a heart attack but bounced back in the polls after New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed him. 

Warren also struggled to explain her vision for Medicare for All, which has long been Sanders’s signature proposal. Unlike the blunt-talking Sanders, she had difficulty explaining what kind of tax hikes her plan would necessitate and how it would be implemented. Trying to position herself to the right of Sanders but to the left of the rest of the field was unsuccessful, and she slowly descended in the polls. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a rally in Detroit Tuesday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg had peeled off some of the affluent white voters supporting Warren, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar provided an alternative for those looking to back a woman in the race. Some on the left blamed Warren for talking about a private dinner she held with Sanders at which he supposedly told her that a woman couldn’t win the presidency — an account the Vermont senator said was untrue. 

Warren trudged on to disappointing finishes in the Iowa caucuses and in New Hampshire, a state that traditionally rewards candidates from neighboring Massachusetts. Despite a strong ground game and high-profile surrogates, she finished fourth in New Hampshire with just 9.2 percent of the vote, double digits behind Klobuchar and Buttigieg and far behind Sanders.

Her difficulties were illustrated by an NBC News New Hampshire exit poll, which found 43 percent of voters saying that Warren’s positions were too liberal, 44 percent saying they weren’t liberal enough and only 7 percent saying they were just right.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s late decision to enter the presidential race helped Warren regain some traction in the February debates. She had a standout debate performance prior to the Nevada caucuses, attacking Bloomberg over his political and business history, including his use of nondisclosure agreements to silence women who left his company over allegations of discrimination. 

She failed to make the top three in either Nevada or South Carolina, winning no delegates as her campaign limped into Super Tuesday, where she was again unable to win a single state. 

“I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes,” Warren said Thursday. “A progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is the incumbent for, and a moderate lane that Joe Biden is the incumbent for. And there’s no room for anyone else in this. I thought that wasn’t right, but evidently I was wrong.”

Additional reporting by Dylan Stableford

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