Campaigns

Kirsten Gillibrand drops out of Democratic presidential race

New York senator had stressed women’s rights and her appeal to Trump voters in her campaign

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is ending her presidential campaign. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the presidential race Wednesday after failing to make the third round of the Democratic primary debates.

Gillibrand is the fourth presidential candidate to exit the contest in recent days, following former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton. Just 10 candidates appear to have qualified for the upcoming debate in September due to higher polling and donor thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee.

“It’s important to know when it’s not your time, and to know how you can best serve your community and your country,” Gillibrand said in a video posted on Twitter. “I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020.”

Gillibrand, who made women’s rights central to her presidential campaign, told The New York Times that she would endorse another candidate in the primary but did not commit to backing another woman. The field still includes five women, including three of her Senate colleagues, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“I will support whoever the nominee is, and I will do whatever it takes to beat Trump,” she said.

Trump tweeted back at Gillibrand Wednesday night, likely mocking her candidacy by saying, “I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!”

Gillibrand’s campaign announced in a memo following her decision that she will relaunch her political action committee, Off the Sidelines, to support female candidates.

She plans to “raise and invest at least $1 million to elect women this cycle,” according to the memo.

Gillibrand is also planning to travel to Texas next month to bolster female Democratic candidates. The party believes Texas will be a top House battleground in 2020.

Under the DNC’s raised threshold to qualify for the next round of debates, candidates needed 130,000 unique donors and had to garner 2 percent support in four qualifying polls.

Gillibrand had also touted her ability to appeal to Trump voters during her primary campaign. She won a GOP-held House seat in upstate New York in 2006 and was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after Hillary Clinton became secretary of State. A moderate Democrat in the House, she shifted to the left after her Senate appointment, but still carried upstate counties that backed Trump in 2016 in her Senate races.

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