Less than a week after singer-songwriter John Legend appeared with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on a stage in Charleston, South Carolina, and touted her qualifications to be the next president of the United States, Warren has exited the 2020 race. The New York Times reported that Warren met with her staff this morning.
Warren was once a very viable candidate in the presidential competition, coming in as a frontrunner in a Quinnipiac poll taken last fall. She has also held her own in a very crowded field, outlasting more than 20 of her Democratic opponents. On a debate stage in Nevada, she took on Michael Bloomberg, showing a real propensity for being able to fight if a matchup with Donald J. Trump were to ever take place. But since primary voting began in Iowa, Warren has failed to win a state or enough delegates to keep her healthy in the race. After Super Tuesday, a Warren presidency felt unlikely.
While on the trail in South Carolina, ESSENCE caught up with the Senator from Massachusetts and asked her if she thought that the voter’s response had anything to do with her gender and if she believed that the country was truly ready for a woman president, given the outcome of the 2016 presidential race that put Trump in the White House.
“I say the world has changed since 2016,” Warren shared. “Look at the numbers. women are outperforming men as candidates in competitive elections. It’s just what the numbers show, women are doing better. Plus look around. Democrats, we took back the house in 2018 because of women candidates. Women who stepped up and women who showed up, who helped make it happen, and I should also say friends of women. The world has changed.”
Warren went on to say that the country once thought that it wasn’t ready for a Catholic president or a Black president, but John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama both went on to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
Despite Warren’s optimism, growing calls for her to drop out of the race have been present since her disappointing finish in neighboring New Hampshire. Before South Carolina voters went to the polls last Saturday, and after a campaign event in Charleston, we asked her why she thought that was.
“I’m not really quite sure why that would be,” Warren confessed. “Let’s see, I think we’ve got eight people in the race. I have more delegates than all of but three. I have more donors than all but one. And I have more persistence than all of them.”
In the end, Warren’s persistence did little to win over voters in the Palmetto State. She finished after Biden, Sanders, Steyer, and Buttigieg in that race. Then on Super Tuesday, her failure to win any of the 14 states and additional territories that voted made a path to victory nearly impossible.
“We have this chance in 2020 to dream big but we know it won’t be an easy fight, but it’s the fight worth having,” she told ESSENCE just days ago. “So I said, ‘We’ve got to fight hard,’ and all of a sudden it was dream big, fight hard,” she said of her campaign slogan, “and it’s been that ever since. It’s kind of the perfect statement of what I’m trying to do every day and what I’ll do as president.”
Though Warren will not be able to see that dream actualized, many on social media are crediting her for her ability to make it this far in the race and present herself as one of the more progressive voices in the field. Warren’s departure marks the exit of the last top-tier woman in the race (Tulsi Gabbard is still considered a candidate), and has essentially made it a two-man competition. The U.S. Senator is the fifth person to drop out of the field this week, following environmentalist Tom Steyer, former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In a statement ending her presidential bid, Warren said, “I used to hate goodbyes. Whenever I taught my last class or when we moved to a new city, those final goodbyes used to wrench my heart. But then I realized that there is no goodbye for much of what we do. When I left one place, I took everything I’d learned before and all the good ideas that were tucked into my brain and all the good friends that were tucked in my heart, and I brought it all forward with me—and it became part of what I did next. This campaign is no different. I may not be in the race for President in 2020, but this fight—our fight—is not over. And our place in this fight has not ended.”