Elizabeth Warren has quit the race. Picture: Matt Rourke/AP
Elizabeth Warren has quit the race. Picture: Matt Rourke/AP

Another candidate quits presidential race

The fight for the Democratic presidential nomination is down to two.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the race today following another round of disappointing finishes in primary contests across the country on Super Tuesday.

The Massachusetts senator, who centred her bid on a promise to wipe out corruption in Washington, officially announced her decision during a press conference outside her home in Cambridge on Thursday afternoon local time.

Ms Warren said that, from the start, she had been told there were only two true lanes in the 2020 contest: a liberal one dominated by Bernie Sanders and a moderate one led by JoE Biden.

"I thought that wasn't right," Ms Warren said.

"But evidently I was wrong."

 

 

Earlier on Thursday, Ms Warren made a conference call her staff, saying she wanted to deliver the news to them "first".

"I want you to hear it straight from me: today, I'm suspending our campaign for president," she told them, according to the call transcript released by campaign staffers.

Ms Warren added that it was "not the call (she) ever wanted to make".

"But I refuse to let disappointment blind me - or you - to what we've accomplished," she continued.

"We didn't reach our goal, but what we have done together - what you have done - has made a lasting difference. It's not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters - and the changes will have ripples for years to come."

Ms Warren's withdrawal comes one day after billionaire candidate Michael Bloomberg made the same decision.

Both endured disappointing results on Super Tuesday, failing to win a single state between them as former vice president Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders dominated. The campaign had projected coming in the top two in at least eight of the 14 states that voted Tuesday, but failed to hit that mark in any of them.

Ms Warren copped the particular indignity of finishing third in her home state, Massachusetts, which Mr Biden won without even campaigning there.

In an email to staffers Wednesday, campaign manager Roger Lau acknowledged that Tuesday's results "fell well short of viability goals and projections, and we are disappointed in the results".

Elizabeth Warren is out. Picture: Matt Rourke/AP
Elizabeth Warren is out. Picture: Matt Rourke/AP

US President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that Ms Warren should have dropped out earlier, calling her "a spoiler".

"Bernie would have won states that he lost because of Warren," Mr Trump said in the White House during a meeting with airline executives on the spreading coronavirus threat.

"She was really a spoiler. In the case of Elizabeth Warren, if she would have done what she probably should have done, he would have won a lot of states, Massachusetts, probably Texas, and Minnesota."

 

 

The Democratic contest to take on Mr Trump is now seen as a two-horse race between Mr Biden, 77, and Mr Sanders, 78.

Ms Warren's endorsement will now be highly sought after by both candidates.

"I need some space around this," Ms Warren said on Thursday afternoon.

"And want to take a little time to think a little more."

On Wednesday, US time, Mr Sanders told reporters he had spoken to Ms Warren on the phone and was giving her "the space" to make her own decision on her future in the race.

"Elizabeth Warren is a very, very excellent senator. She has run a strong campaign. She will make her own decision in her own time," he said.

Mr Sanders would not say whether he had asked for Ms Warren's endorsement.

Some of his supporters were less charitable.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar reacted to Mr Biden's Super Tuesday surge by expressing frustration at Ms Warren's decision to stay in the race for so long, even after a series of weak results in early states.

Last month's contests saw Ms Warren come third in Iowa, fourth in New Hampshire and Nevada, and fifth in South Carolina.

Ms Omar believed Ms Warren had hurt Mr Sanders' chances against Mr Biden by splitting the progressive vote.

By contrast, moderate candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar had dropped out of the race in the hours before Super Tuesday and endorsed Mr Biden, believing he was the only centrist capable of defeating Mr Sanders.

With both of them out of the way, Mr Biden blew past Mr Sanders to win 10 states.

It must be said, Mr Biden still had to contend with Mr Bloomberg, who had spent more than $200 million on advertising across the Super Tuesday contests.

But the billionaire had already been badly weakened - thanks in large part, it must be said, to Ms Warren.

The most memorable moment of her campaign came at last month's presidential debate in Nevada.

It was the first time Mr Bloomberg had appeared on stage, having entered the primary process late to a lot of hype, and Ms Warren proceeded to destroy his candidacy in about 60 seconds.

"I'd like to talk about who we're running against. A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians," she said.

"And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mike Bloomberg.

"Understand this, Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another.

"This country has worked for the rich for a long time and left everyone else in the dirt. It is time to have a president who will be on the side of working families."

When the conversation turned to his alleged record of sexism towards female employees, Ms Warren pounced again.

Mr Bloomberg had just reeled off a list of women he had employed in prominent positions.

"I hope you heard what his defence was. 'I've been nice to some women,'" Ms Warren said.

"What we need to know is what exactly is lurking out there," she continued.

She brought up the unknown number of nondisclosure agreements women had signed with the billionaire's company over the years.

"Mr Mayor, are you willing to release all those women from those nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?" Ms Warren asked.

Mr Bloomberg refused.

She continued to press, repeatedly asking Mr Bloomberg how many nondisclosure agreements there were. He did not provide an answer.

It was a lethal exchange.

So, while Ms Warren may have helped Mr Biden by taking some votes from Mr Sanders on Super Tuesday, her most useful contribution to his rise was killing off Mr Bloomberg's challenge single-handed.

The race for the nomination is now a two-way contest between Mr Biden and Mr Sanders. If either wins the presidency, it is highly likely he will find a job for Ms Warren in the next administration.

 

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin