And Then There Were Two: Tulsi Gabbard Ends Long-shot 2020 Campaign and Endorses Joe Biden Over Bernie Sanders

"It's clear that Democratic primary voters have chosen Vice President Joe Biden," Gabbard said Thursday

It’s official: Tulsi Gabbard is ending her 2020 presidential campaign.

The 38-year-old Hawaii representative on Thursday officially suspended her campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

Gabbard won two delegates in the American Samoa caucus but had become virtually invisible during the presidential race in recent months as her campaign’s limited support failed to expand and she didn’t appear in any recent debates.

“After Tuesday’s election, it’s 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,” Gabbard said in a video announcement posted on social media.

She called Biden a friend and recognized her relationship with his family, including his late son Beau.

“Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart and he’s motivated by his love for our country and the American people,” she said. “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.”

The Democratic race is now left between Biden and Sanders, who are vying for to run against President Donald Trump in the November general election.

Biden has become the party’s clear front-runner this month, leading the delegate count over Sanders by a 1,181-885 margin. A candidate needs at least 1,991 delegates to win the Democratic Party’s nomination at the national convention in mid-July.

Gabbard’s few delegates thus far and her consistently low polling numbers since launching her campaign last February made her a long-shot candidate for the presidency and led to many questions about why she hadn’t dropped out long before major candidates such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, who both left the race in recent weeks.

She was the last remaining woman in the 2020 presidential race, which started with a historically large field of candidates and a number of women who were at times thought to be leaders for the Democratic nomination — including Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

In her announcement on Thursday, Gabbard also cited the country’s new perspective since the novel coronavirus pandemic upended daily American life.

“Throughout my life and throughout this campaign, my motivation has been to serve God, this country and the American people as best I can,” Gabbard, a major in the National Guard who served two tours in the Middle East, said Thursday. “I feel the best way that I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and well-being of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress and stand ready to serve in uniform should the Hawaii National Guard be activated.”

Gabbard’s campaign was politically unorthodox compared to other candidates: She is an economic progressive who has criticized the U.S. for large spending on military efforts abroad, and she criticized the Democratic nomination process on her way out this week, telling Fox News, “I think there’s a lot of hypocrisy going on here,” after the party changed its rules so that she no longer qualified for the most recent debate.

Previously, the Democratic Party’s rules stated that any candidate who received a delegate in the primaries so far was eligible to participate in the next debate.

However, the party changed its rules to say a candidate needed at least 20 percent of the primary delegates thus far to make the debate stage, mathematically eliminating Gabbard from participating.

She hadn’t participated in a Democratic debate since November in Atlanta and has to qualify for a number of the Democratic debates since last summer.

Tulsi Gabbard
Ethan Miller/Getty

Gabbard, who is both the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress, primarily made headlines throughout the 2020 campaign for her in-fighting with the Democratic Party, often coming from frequent appearances on Fox News during which she’s criticized her own party’s leadership.

She also sued former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for defamation in January after Clinton said on a podcast last fall that the Hawaii lawmaker was “a favorite of the Russians.”

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill told PEOPLE the lawsuit was “ridiculous,” while Gabbard maintained in the lawsuit that Clinton’s comments were an attempt to “derail” her 2020 campaign (though Gabbard never polled among the top candidates throughout the race).

Gabbard also rubbed some Democrats the wrong way after she controversially voted “present” during the House of Representatives’ roll call vote on President Trump’s impeachment charges in December.

“My ‘present’ vote was an active protest against the zero-sum game the two opposing political sides have trapped America in,” she tweeted, explaining her decision. “My vote and campaign is about freeing our country from this damaging mindset so we can work side-by-side to usher in a bright future for all.”

Trump was still impeached on charges for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with his Ukraine scandal, though he was later acquitted in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Gabbard said Thursday she was she’s offering her “full support” to Biden moving forward, though the campaign has been overshadowed by efforts to combat the coronavirus.

“We are all in this together and we must all rise to meet this moment in service to our country and our fellow man,” Gabbard said. “This is not the first time that we have faced adversity together and it will not be the last.”

Related Articles