Kirsten Gillibrand drops out of presidential race

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday she is dropping out of the presidential race.

The announcement came hours before the deadline to qualify for the September primary debate, with Gillibrand not meeting the criteria.

"I know this isn't the result we wanted. We wanted to win this race," Gillibrand said in a video posted to Twitter. "But it's important to know when it's not your time and to know how you can best serve your community and country. I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020."

Gillibrand said in an exclusive interview with The New York Times that she plans to endorse another candidate in the primary but has yet to pick which one. She stopped short of saying she would pick another woman in the race.

"I think that women have a unique ability to bring people together and heal this country," she said. "I think a woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting."

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Gillibrand had cast herself as a staunch advocate for progressive causes and used her White House bid to promote a slate of policies she said would benefit women. However, she consistently struggled to gain traction in one of the most crowded primary fields in modern history.

“We’ve led the fights that we can’t afford to lose for women and families and moved the entire field along with us,” she said. “We have put the civil rights of women front and center and never backed down when it comes to valuing them.”

"We have moved the needle on fighting for families and their economic security, bringing issues like paid family leave from the back burner to the presidential debate stage," she added.

Among other things, the New York Democrat campaigned on screening judicial nominees on their support for abortion access and a “Family Bill of Rights” to codify the rights of parents into law.

Gillibrand raised eyebrows when she criticized former Vice President Joe Biden, the primary field’s current front-runner, over his past support for a law that bars federal funding for abortion — a position he has since recanted — and his opposition to a 1980s proposal to expand the child tax credit.

However, without entering the primary field with an existing national base of support like Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (I-Vt.) or having a standout debate moment like Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule Democratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement MORE (D-Calif.), Gillibrand was unable to convert the media coverage of her spats with Biden into prolonged momentum.

She struggled during the primary to consistently poll above 1 percent in national and statewide surveys and could not attract the 130,000 unique donors needed to meet the Democratic National Committee’s requirement to appear on the September debate stage.

At one point, her campaign suggested her low fundraising totals could be attributed to backlash over Gillibrand's past calls for former Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenTake Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE (D-Minn.) to resign after allegations of harassment. She has continued to defend her actions. And she has faced heat over changing her positions and moving to the left when she moved to the Senate from the House.

Gillibrand vowed she would not shy away from the political spotlight despite suspending her campaign, saying the party’s focus must be on defeating President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE in the 2020 election and winning back control of the Senate.

“Our work is not done. We have a clear mission in front of us. We have to defeat President Trump, flip the Senate, and elect women up and down the ballot. I can’t wait to keep speaking out, marching and fighting with you,” she said. “Thank you so much for everything, and I’ll see you soon.”

Looking past the nominating contest and the general election, Gillibrand hinted to the Times that she was open to working in other offices after 2020, including in a Democratic administration.

“I would absolutely consider anything that was asked of me, because my goal is to serve,” she said.

Other 2020 Democrats praised Gillibrand soon after her exit, including Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators introduce bill to push ICE to stop 'overuse' of solitary confinement Krystal Ball: Patrick's 2020 bid is particularly 'troublesome' for Warren 2020 Democrats demand action on guns after Santa Clarita shooting MORE (D-N.J.).

"Kirsten, you are my sister and one of the most righteous fighters I know. I'll miss our run-ins on the trail, but women, New Yorkers, and all Americans are lucky to have you resolutely at their sides," Booker tweeted. 

Meanwhile, President Trump mocked Gillibrand, saying "she was the one I was really afraid of!"