Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand drops out of the presidential race
(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced she was exiting the presidential race on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of an expected revelation that she would not qualify for the third round of debates.
"It's important to know when it is not your time and to know how you can best serve your community and country," Gillibrand said in a video posted to social media.
Gillibrand rose to national prominence in 2009 following her appointment to the seat previously occupied by Hillary Clinton.
Though she represented one of the nation's most high-profile states, Gillibrand's campaign struggled to gain traction from the start. She lagged in the polls upon her entrance to the race in March and surpassed the donor threshold required for participation in the first two rounds of debates well after several of her Senate colleagues in the race, as well as unheralded names like Andrew Yang.
Looking ahead to September's third debate, her campaign had said she was 20,000 contributors and two qualifying polls shy of the requirements needed by the deadline. As of Wednesday morning, she was still calling on supporters via social media to help her cross the donor threshold.
Gillibrand made women's issues the cornerstone of her campaign, releasing policy plans focused on paid family leave, reproductive rights and equal pay. Prior to her candidacy, she spoke out on sexual assault on college campuses and pushed to remove hearings concerning sexual assault in the military from the chain of command. She advocated for landmark legislation such as the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
But it was her 2017 decision to call for the resignation of her Senate colleague, Al Franken, D-Minn., in the midst of allegations of inappropriate behavior, that became most associated with her candidacy. Many voters indicated that they thought the action deprived Franken of due process.
The senator often said on the campaign trail that fundraising efforts were hampered by donors who she said were aiming to punish her for speaking out against Franken.
"There's some Democratic donors who want to punish me for the behavior of Sen. Franken and hold me accountable for his decisions," she said in an interview with The Washington Post Live earlier this month.
Gillibrand often touted her congressional win in a "two-to-one Republican district" with "more cows than Democrats," but her record from those years on immigration and guns left her vulnerable to critics. Gillibrand, who once had an A rating from the NRA, said she changed her stance when she filled Clinton's Senate post and became aware of gun violence in urban parts of the state. She also apologized for her previous stance on immigration, which included opposition to amnesty for undocumented immigrants and closing the border.
In an interview published in The New York Times just prior to the release of her video, Gillibrand revealed that she would endorse another candidate in the primary, but has not yet made a final decision. She did say, however, that she believed a fellow woman could be the best choice.
"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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