Mar 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Tulsi Gabbard suspends presidential campaign, endorses Biden

Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Tulsi Gabbard announced Thursday that she will suspend her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign and endorsed Joe Biden.

The state of play: While she was one of the final three candidates left in the race, alongside Biden and Bernie Sanders, the Hawaii congresswoman failed to gain traction in any primary and hadn't qualified for a debate since last year.

  • She did pick up two delegates in the caucuses in American Samoa, where she was born.

What she's saying: "I know Vice President Biden and his wife and am grateful to have called his son Beau, who also served in the National Guard, a friend. Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart and is motivated by his love for our country and the American people," she said in a campaign email.

  • "I'm confident that he will lead our country guided by the spirit of aloha — respect and compassion — and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart."
  • "Today, I’m suspending my presidential campaign, and offering my full support to Vice President Joe Biden in his quest to bring our country together."

Worth noting: In February 2016, Gabbard quit as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee in order to endorse Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton.

The big picture: An Iraq War veteran and member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, she entered the race with a complicated record, especially on foreign policy, and had long been a favorite of fringe voices on the right, who often amplified her comments via social media.

  • She met with President Trump during his transition and joined Republicans in promoting the use of the phrase "radical Islam."
  • A secret trip to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in January 2017 resulted in further backlash against Gabbard, who dubbed the trip a "fact-finding" mission.
  • She later voted "present" on Trump's impeachment in December, going against the overwhelming majority in her party.

Flashback: Gabbard made waves after Hillary Clinton suggested that she was a "favorite of the Russians."

  • Several of Gabbard's fellow 2020 competitors came to her defense, as did Trump.

Go deeper: 2020 presidential election: Track which candidates are running

Go deeper

Biden: "Not the time" to call for Sanders to drop out

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders at the March Democratic debate. Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden was asked by an attendee at a virtual fundraiser tonight whether he had any updates on Bernie Sanders' campaign and if he's going to drop out.

  • What they're saying: "Now’s not the time for me or anyone to call for him to drop out," Biden said. "I know firsthand what a personal decision that is."

Why it matters: If Biden becomes the nominee, he'll need Sanders to do everything he can to help him win — and that'll be a lot easier if he's hands-off about whether and how Sanders exits the race.

Sanders says he's staying in race, looks forward to debating Biden

Bernie Sanders said at a press conference Wednesday that he will not suspend his presidential campaign after a second consecutive week of bruising primary losses to Joe Biden, telling reporters that he looks forward to Sunday's one-on-one debate.

Why it matters: Sanders' path to the nomination narrowed significantly after Biden built up his delegate lead in most of the states that voted Tuesday — including the key prize of Michigan, where Sanders' surprise win over Hillary Clinton in 2016 gave him a needed boost of momentum.

4 takeaways from the Biden-Sanders Democratic debate

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The last time former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders took the debate stage, eight candidates were still competing for the nomination, Biden's campaign looked to be on its last legs, and the coronavirus epidemic was the subject of just one question from moderators.

The state of play: The world has changed dramatically since Feb. 25. Bumping elbows and standing the CDC-recommended six feet apart in a CNN studio without an audience, the two candidates, both septuagenarians, sparred over their visions for an America paralyzed by a global health crisis.