INDIAN American Senator Kamala Harris ended her 2020 presidential bid on Tuesday (3), abandoning a campaign that began with promise for a rising star in the Democratic Party but faltered as she struggled to raise money or make a compelling case for her candidacy.
“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris said in an email to supporters on Tuesday. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”
Harris, who is of Indian and black heritage, held a conference call with staff on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of her decision, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” she wrote to supporters. “As the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
Harris has been one the fiercest critics of Donald Trump among the 2020 candidates, directly attacking the embattled president and repeatedly calling for his impeachment.
She also challenged Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden head on in the party’s first presidential debate, a move that proved a strategic mistake as her support slid while Biden’s largely held steady.
Harris, 55, positioned herself as a unifying candidate who could energize the party’s base of young, diverse progressives while also appealing to more moderate voters.
Yet after climbing into double digits in opinion polls following a strong debate performance in June, Harris slid out of the top tier in recent months and lags behind leading candidates’ fundraising hauls.
Her campaign recently began showing signs of trouble, including stagnant fundraising and public complaints by former staff that her staff was being treated poorly.
“She just hasn’t quite satisfactorily answered the ‘what makes you better than the other candidates question,'” a longtime aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “That’s the underlying biggest thing. She hasn’t quite sufficiently explained her rationale for herself.”
Harris would have struggled to spend competitively against her rivals. She finished September with $9 million in cash, according to finance disclosures her campaign filed. By comparison, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had nearly $26 million at that point.
The departure of the senator from California from the race is the first of a top-tier candidate from the crowded nominating contest field, which offered the most diverse slate of candidates in American electoral history.
Harris qualified for the December debate, which will be held in her home state. Her departure could now leave a stage of only white competitors. Two minority candidates, US Senator Cory Booker and former federal housing chief Julian Castro, remain in the race but neither have yet to qualify for the debate.
Harris entered the race as an immediate front-runner but struggled to maintain support, which critics said was fuelled by her inability to articulate policy positions and the backlash of an attempt to attack rival former vice president Joe Biden.
Harris quickly received accolades from other candidates on Twitter after her premature exit from the race.
“Her campaign broke barriers and did it with joy. Love you, sister,” said fellow Senator Cory Booker, the other black candidate in the 2020 race.