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Kirsten Gillibrand ends 2020 presidential bid amid low support

Kirsten Gillibrand speaks to voters at Franklin Coffee

Kirsten Gillibrand speaks to voters at Franklin Coffee in Franklin, New Hampshire, on June 14. Photo Credit: EPA-EFE / Shutterstock / CJ Gunther

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday ended her bid for president after struggling for eight months to gain traction in the polls and among donors.

The New York Democrat failed to qualify for the third official presidential debate.

“I know this isn’t the result that we wanted. We wanted to win this race,” she told supporters in a video. “But it’s important to know when it’s not your time, and to know how you can best serve your community and country.”

Gillibrand said she believes she can best serve by uniting the country to defeat Republican President Donald Trump.

Gillibrand, 52, of upstate Brunswick, in her presidential campaign had portrayed Trump as a coward and used the campaign slogan, “Brave wins.” She began exploring a run for the White House in January and formalized her bid in April with a rally at the foot of Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.

But the senator never broke out of the lower tier of the sprawling field of Democratic presidential candidates. She had less than 1 percent support among the contenders in a national Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. And she raised $2.3 million in the second quarter of 2019 while spending $4.2 million.

Trump responded to the departure of his fellow New Yorker from the Democratic primary with sarcasm.

“A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary,” the president tweeted. “I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, like Gillibrand, did not meet the polling and fundraising thresholds to qualify for the Sept. 12 debate in Dallas. But his campaign said Wednesday his failure to make the stage did not change its course.

De Blasio national press secretary Jaclyn Rothenberg said the mayor was looking forward to taping the podcast Pod Save America, to a labor event in Nevada on Thursday and New Hampshire’s state Democratic convention next week.    

On the trail, Gillibrand had sought to highlight her experience representing a politically diverse state, noting that she defeated a Republican incumbent congressman in a red upstate district in 2006 and served as a senator for purple swaths of the state such as Long Island.

The senator has long been a champion of women’s issues, combating sexual misconduct even before the dawn of the #MeToo era and more recently rallying in defense of abortion rights.

Her campaign manager, Jess Fassler, highlighted her work in a public memo reflecting on their bid.

“In a historically large field, Kirsten distinguished herself as the fiercest fighter for women and families. She took bold stances that pushed her Democratic opponents to follow suit, from her Family Bill of Rights to the first comprehensive reproductive rights plan in the field,” he wrote.

The campaign had relied heavily on retail campaigning and its ground game, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“There is dignity and strength in knowing when it’s not your time,” Fassler wrote.

Her one-time rivals for the Democratic nomination for president tweeted their support of her.

“Kirsten, you are my sister and one of the most righteous fighters I know,” wrote Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. “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.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also weighed in: “@SenGillibrand is a great talent, a rising star in the Democratic Party & a good friend. The people of NY are fortunate to have her back full time.”

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