Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts and one-time frontrunner in the Democratic presidential field, is ending her campaign, setting up a two-man race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders for the party’s nomination.
Ms Warren, 70, told staffers on a call on Thursday morning that she was leaving the race. “We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together — what you have done — has made a lasting difference,” she said. The senator is expected to hold a press conference later on Thursday.
The decision comes after a disappointing Super Tuesday for Ms Warren, who finished in third place in her home state of Massachusetts, behind Mr Biden, the former vice-president, and Mr Sanders, the Vermont senator.
Ms Warren, who set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ran on a platform of “big, structural change”. She touted her myriad policy proposals on the campaign trail, often saying: “I have a plan for that.” One of her signature plans was for a 2 per cent tax on all wealth above $50m.
Ms Warren was for a time seen as the candidate to beat in a crowded field of Democrats vying to take on Donald Trump in November. But her campaign faltered when she came under pressure to explain how she would pay for “Medicare for All”, a plan to virtually eliminate private health insurance that Mr Sanders has also called for.
Her departure sets up a fight between Mr Biden, 77, and Mr Sanders, 78, for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. Tulsi Gabbard, the congresswoman from Hawaii, is still running for president but has collected just two delegates.
While votes are still being counted from California’s primary on Tuesday, Mr Biden currently leads in the national delegate count, at 596, while Mr Sanders has 531.
Ms Warren failed to break through in the early voting states of Iowa, where she finished third, and New Hampshire, where she came fourth despite being a native of neighbouring Massachusetts. She was also fourth in the Nevada caucuses and fifth in the South Carolina primary, followed by a Super Tuesday during which she failed to reach viability in many key states, including delegate-rich California and Texas.
The senator’s departure all but eliminates the possibility that the US will elect a female president in 2020. Ms Warren was known to stay at campaign rallies for hours after they finished to take selfies with supporters, and she often did a “pinky promise” with young girls at her events, telling them: “I’m running for president because that’s what girls do.”
Ms Warren’s announcement comes a day after Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, ended his own campaign and threw his support behind Mr Biden. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped their presidential campaigns before Super Tuesday, also backing Mr Biden.
Ms Warren’s endorsement is highly sought after by Mr Biden, a moderate Democrat, and Mr Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. Ms Warren endorsed Hillary Clinton, rather than Mr Sanders, in 2016, but her progressive policy platform has led many to question whether she will support the Vermont senator this time round.