U.S. Senator Kamala Harris ending 2020 presidential bid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Kamala Harris ended her 2020 presidential bid on Tuesday, abandoning a campaign that began with promise for a rising star in the Democratic Party but faltered as she struggled to raise money or make a compelling case for her candidacy.

"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," Harris said in an email to supporters on Tuesday. "My campaign for president simply doesn't have the financial resources we need to continue."

Harris, who had she been elected would have been the first woman and second black U.S. president, held a conference call with staff on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of her decision, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Harris, 55, positioned herself as a unifying candidate who could energize the party's base of young, diverse progressives while also appealing to more moderate voters.

Yet after climbing into double digits in opinion polls following a strong debate performance in June, Harris slid out of the top tier in recent months and lags behind leading candidates' fundraising hauls.

Her campaign recently began showing signs of trouble, including stagnant fundraising and public complaints by former staff that her staff was being treated poorly.

"She just hasn't quite satisfactorily answered the ‘what makes you better than the other candidates question,'" a longtime aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. "That's the underlying biggest thing. She hasn't quite sufficiently explained her rationale for herself."

Harris would have struggled to spend competitively against her rivals. She finished September with $9 million in cash, according to finance disclosures her campaign filed. By comparison, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren had nearly $26 million at that point.

The departure of the senator from California from the race is the first of a top-tier candidate from the crowded nominating contest field, which offered the most diverse slate of candidates in American electoral history.

Harris qualified for the December debate, which will be held in her home state. Her departure could now leave a stage of only white competitors. Two minority candidates, U.S. Senator Cory Booker and former federal housing chief Julian Castro, remain in the race but neither have yet to qualify for the debate.

Harris entered the race as an immediate front-runner but struggled to maintain support, which critics said was fueled by her inability to articulate policy positions and the backlash of an attempt to attack rival former Vice President Joe Biden.

(For a graphic on 'Who is running in 2020' click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ff62ZC)

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

12/03/2019 19:04

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