Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced Wednesday that she is quitting the 2020 Democrat presidential primary after failing to qualify for a third debate in September.
“I know this isn’t the result that we wanted. We wanted to win this race,” Gillibrand said in a video shared to Twitter. “But it’s important to know when it’s not your time.”
Today, I am ending my campaign for president.
I am so proud of this team and all we've accomplished. But I think it’s important to know how you can best serve.
To our supporters: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Now, let's go beat Donald Trump and win back the Senate. pic.twitter.com/xM5NGfgFGT
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) August 28, 2019
The development follows reports stating Gillibrand’s former aides wanted their ex-boss to drop out of the race, citing low poll numbers and lackluster fundraising.
“It would be best if she decided that this was not her time,” said one longtime fundraiser for the New York Democrat. “Most people that I talk to are very happy with her as their senator and don’t want her to give up her Senate seat and don’t see any realistic traction for her.”
One former senior staffer said the lawmaker’s personality isn’t for everyone.
“I don’t know that anyone even wants to see her on the debate stage. Everyone I have talked to finds her performative and obnoxious,” commented the ex-aide.
Gillibrand made headlines last week for admitting she still harbored furry at relatives who voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
“I hate to admit this fact, but I have uncles who voted for Trump,” she said. “I have not spoken to them about it so I can’t tell you why. I’m still angry.”
President Trump responded to Gillibrand quitting the race by joking that she was the only lawmaker he feared to run against in the general election. “A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary. I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!” the president tweeted.
A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary. I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2019
Gillibrand had several cringe-worthy movements throughout her bid for the White House, including her claim that her own son’s “whiteness” protects him.
“My son, who’s white, if he breaks down in a car and knocks on a door for help, most people will help him,” Gillibrand told Breitbart News following the second debate in Detriot, Michigan. “If my son was black and knocked on that door, he might be shot. His whiteness is what protects him. That’s all that white privilege is.”
Gillibrand topped an incumbent Republican in a conservative part of upstate New York to get to the House in 2007, and was appointed to the Senate two years later, filling the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, who was tapped to be U.S. secretary of state. Gillibrand later easily retained the seat during a 2010 special election, as well as in 2012 and 2018.
Vocal in the Senate on curbing sexual harassment and promoting equal pay for women and family leave, Gillibrand made those and her staunch defense of abortion rights the core of her presidential bid.
After forming an exploratory committee in January and formally entering the race by calling President Donald Trump a “coward” in a March speech delivered near the New York City skyscraper bearing his name, Gillibrand began with $10.5-plus million left over from her 2018 Senate campaign in her presidential campaign account.
That seemed like more than enough resources for the long haul. But Gillibrand was the first Senate Democrat in December 2017 to call for Sen. Al Franken’s (D-NY) resignation amid numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, and she has said for months that that alienated donors and some voters in his neighboring, make-or-break Iowa.
Gillibrand failed to catch fire, though, despite embracing feminist issues. This month, she visited St. Louis, home to Missouri’s lone remaining abortion clinic, to decry efforts by Republican-controlled legislatures around the country to restrict abortion — after previously visiting Georgia’s state capital for the same purpose.
The two-dozen-plus Democrat presidential field had already begun to winnow before Gillibrand’s announcement. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) left the 2020 race in July, followed by former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.