Kamala Harris: Democrat ends bid for US presidency

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Democratic White House hopeful Kamala Harris is dropping out of the presidential race.

The California senator’s campaign seemed full of promise when it launched in January, but she struggled to make headway in a crowded field.

In November her cash-strapped operation laid off staff at its Baltimore HQ, in New Hampshire and in her home state.

The 55-year-old, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, was once seen as a rising star within the party.

But she could not cement her fleeting position in the top tier of candidates alongside Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Media captionHarris and Biden clash over his race record

Ms Harris entered the race as a leading contender, launching her bid for the White House to a crowd of more than 20,000 in Oakland, California, at the beginning of the year.

She reached double-digits in the polls after attacking Mr Biden on the issue of race during a live TV debate in June, but began to lag in recent months.

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“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Ms Harris said in an email to supporters on Tuesday.

“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.

“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”

  • Where did it go wrong for Kamala Harris?

She held a conference call with staff earlier in the day to inform them of her decision.

Her husband, Douglas Emhoff, tweeted a message of support to her after the announcement.

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After a tweet by President Trump appeared to mock her departure from the race, Ms Harris responded with a scathing tweet referencing his possible impeachment trial in the Senate. On Tuesday, a Democrat-led investigation in the House of Representatives said there was “overwhelming” evidence to impeach Mr Trump for misconduct in office. However no formal charges have yet been laid.

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Mr Biden was among those who paid tribute to his former rival.

He said: “My reaction is she is a first-rate intellect, a first-rate candidate.”

Media captionDemocratic candidate Joe Biden describes ex-candidate Kamala Harris as “a real competitor”

He added: “I have mixed emotions about it because she is really a solid, solid person, and loaded with talent.

“I’m sure she’s not dropping out on wanting to make the changes she cares about.”

Other candidates were also quick to pay tribute.

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Ms Harris, a former San Francisco attorney-general, had already qualified for the next round of Democratic debates, to be held later this month in her home state.

But polling showed her in the single digits in national surveys as well as those conducted in early-voting states.

After initially raising $12m in the first three months of her campaign, she failed to harness momentum.

Lofty expectations lead to dashed hopes

January’s launch event in Oakland felt like the beginning of something big – a presidential campaign with money, national organisation and a young, charismatic candidate whose background was as diverse as the party she wanted to lead.

The former state attorney general and prosecutor from nearby San Francisco gave a speech full of lofty rhetoric, saying that the 2020 presidential election would be about the “right to moral leadership” of the entire planet.

Now her campaign won’t be around to see 2020, let alone the November general election.

Pundits and analysts are already picking apart Harris’s campaign strategy and perceived missteps over the past months. She tried to walk a line between the moderate and the progressive wings of her party and ended up appealing to neither.

She squandered her surge to near-front-runner status after a clash with Joe Biden in the June debate with muddled responses to questions on healthcare policy. Her subsequent debate performances were lacklustre. She initially ignored, then made a belated push, to campaign in first-voting Iowa.

At 55, Harris still has a long political career ahead of her. She would be an attractive vice-presidential pick for a candidate like Biden. While her first foray into national politics will be largely remembered for unmet expectations and missed opportunities, she has plenty of time for a second act.

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Pundits noted how Ms Harris’ original campaign slogan “for the people” – a reference to her career as a prosecutor – failed to attract support from younger, more progressive voters.

She took on a new slogan, her “3a.m. agenda” – referencing the issues that keep voters awake at night – but that also failed to attract support leading her to return to her prosecutorial roots with the phrase “justice is on the ballot”.

Her record as a prosecutor drew scrutiny from the left-wing of her party, despite her efforts to label herself a “progressive prosecutor”.

Critics noted how she prosecuted a number of cannabis criminal cases during her time as San Francisco district attorney, despite admitting to having tried the drug herself.

She also pushed for harsher punishments for parents of truant students, and opposed independent investigations of police shootings until last May.

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