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Marianne Williamson. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

Editor's Note: Williamson dropped out of contention for the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Below is our original article on her candidacy.

Self-help author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, who has never before held public office, says she's running for president because the country is in need of a "moral and spiritual awakening." Williamson has penned 13 books, four of which have been New York Times number one bestsellers. She has officially qualified for the DNC debates, having reached 65,000 individual donors.

Key facts about Williamson:
  • Current position: Spiritual leader, author and activist
  • Age: 66
  • Born: Houston
  • Undergraduate: Pomona College (left after 2 years)
  • Date candidacy announced: January 28, 2019
  • Previous roles: In 2014, Williamson ran as an independent in California's 33rd district congressional race and placed fourth out of 16 candidates, winning 13.2% of the vote.
Williamson's stance on key issues:
  • Health care: Supports a "Medicare for All model," according to her campaign website.
  • Education: Supports universal pre-school and free college.
  • Green New Deal: Supports.
  • Immigration: She supports DACA and a full path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with no "serious criminal background."
  • Israeli-Palestinian peace process: "I don’t think the ultimate answer will be about settlements or checkpoints,” Williamson told a Jewish news site. "The work of the genuine peace builders must be on the level of the heart.” She added that the U.S. must return to "where it can be considered an honest broker" to play a useful role.
  • Reparations: In an interview with CNN, Williamson called for $100 billion to be paid to African Americans in reparations for slavery, with $10 billion per year distributed over 10 years.
  • Children: Following through on a debate-stage promise to make America the best place in the world to raise a child, Williamson has proposed establishing a new government department dedicated to children and youth.
Key criticism of Marianne Williamson:
  • Staff treatment: In a 1992 article, Williamson was criticized for her interpersonal skills and management style — a claim she acknowledged she could work on. At the time, she referred to herself as "the bitch for God."
  • Anonymity and inexperience: Williamson has never held public office before and has less name-recognition than many of her 2020 competitors.
1 fun thing about Marianne Williamson:
  • Williamson appeared many times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and was often called Oprah's spiritual adviser, according to Vox.

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about the other 2020 candidates

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.

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