Kamala Harris ends bid for president: 'I can’t tell you ... that I have a path forward'
WASHINGTON – Sen. Kamala Harris will end her presidential campaign, closing the chapter on a candidacy that began with high expectations but failed to capitalize on a viral debate performance this summer and struggled with reported tumult among the campaign's staff.
A campaign aide confirmed to USA TODAY shortly before it was announced publicly that Harris informed her staff Tuesday she was suspending her campaign.
In an email to supporters, Harris said she's "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."
"My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue," she said in the email. "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.
"In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do," she continued. "So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret – but also with deep gratitude – that I am suspending my campaign today."
Kamala Harris' campaign history
Harris’ decision comes months after struggling to gain traction in a crowded primary field after briefly surging in the summer. During the first Democratic primary debate in June, Harris had a powerful exchange with former Vice President Joe Biden, where she called out Biden for opposing federally mandated busing to integrate schools while he was in Congress.
In polling after that exchange, the California senator experienced a spike among voters and was vaulted into the top tier of candidates. However, her numbers began to dip after a couple of weeks. Harris, the first South Asian American senator and the second African American female senator in history, tried to restart her campaign in the early fall by focusing on Iowa.
In October, dozens of aides were laid off from her Baltimore headquarters while other staffers were redeployed to Iowa, according to Politico. Most recently, top Harris aide Kelly Mehlenbacher resigned and accepted a job with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Politico also reported.
Despite being one of three black candidates, Harris struggled to make waves with African American voters, a top voting bloc for Democrats. Throughout the campaign, some progressives criticized Harris for her record as California attorney general, arguing she was part of an era of "tough on crime" Democrats.
Harris, who was elected to the Senate in 2016, first announced her bid on ABC's "Good Morning America” on Jan. 21. She held an official kick-off rally six days after announcing her bid in her hometown of Oakland, California.
“We are at an inflection point in the history of our world,” she said during her rally on Jan. 27. “We are at an inflection point in the history of our nation. We are here because the American dream and our American democracy are under attack and on the line like never before. And we are here at this moment in time because we must answer a fundamental question: Who are we? Who are we as Americans?”
Kavanaugh hearings offer standout moment for Harris
Harris was often a harsh critic of President Donald Trump and had called for his impeachment.
Before announcing her candidacy earlier this year, Harris' popularity began to rise in the fall of 2018 during Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct by California professor Christine Blasey Ford. Kavanaugh fiercely denied the allegations.
Both Kavanaugh and Ford testified before Congress about the alleged incident that Ford said happened they were both in high school. During their testimonies, Harris saw her skills as a prosecutor go viral while questioning Kavanaugh.
Harris in September tried to hit back at Kavanaugh once again after new details of a separate sexual misconduct allegation that he had previously denied were published in a book released this fall.
Many of the 2020 Democratic candidates called for Kavanaugh to be impeached, including Harris.
"I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people," she wrote in a Tweet on Sept. 15. "He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice."
Harris' history as a prosecutor
After getting her law degree from the University of California-Hastings College of Law, Harris went on to become a prosecutor in nearby Alameda County, where her intense, and often controversial, passion for criminal justice reform took root.
From there, Harris went on to become the first female district attorney in the city’s history, where she was reelected four years later.
Then in 2010, Harris became California's first female attorney general. She was reelected by a wide margin in 2014, and then successfully ran for a U.S. Senate seat vacated by veteran Democrat Barbara Boxer in 2016.
Critics throughout the campaign often pointed to Harris' tenure as attorney general. She had a tough-on-crime approach that resulted in some parents being arrested for their children's truancy.
However, Harris often promoted her tenure as California AG as a "progressive prosecutor."
'I've got you'
Support from Harris' staff and former opponents began pouring in after she announced her campaign was ending.
"My dear friend @KamalaHarris is a trailblazer," Sen. Cory Booker wrote in a tweet. "I've loved serving with her in the Senate and every moment we've run into one another on the trail. Her campaign broke barriers and did it with joy. Love you, sister."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar wrote in a tweet that Harris "is a good friend and incredibly strong public servant."
"Sometimes campaigns can tear friendships apart but we have grown closer. Her good work will continue," she wrote.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that Harris "spent her career advocating for the voiceless and the vulnerable.
"I am grateful for her leadership and the courage she brings to the Senate and the national debate. I know she will continue to fight fearlessly on behalf of the American people – and our democracy," he wrote in a tweet.
Lily Adams, communication director for Harris, wrote in a tweet: "There is no one who works harder, is tougher or keeps their humor more than she does. I’m so proud of her, our staff and the race we ran. Would do it all again in a second."
As news broke that Harris was ending her campaign, her husband, Douglas Emhoff, posted a photo of him holding the California senator.
"I’ve got you. As always," he wrote, adding a heart emoji.
Contributing: Marco della Cava