(CN) – Joining the recent dropouts in the Democratic presidential race, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard ended her campaign Thursday and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.
Gabbard exits the primary after prying just two delegates from the early voting states. And her endorsement of Biden quells Democrats’ concerns the Iraq War veteran would mount a third-party challenge in November.
Gabbard, 38, told supporters the best way to serve her country during the coronavirus pandemic is to remain in Congress and prepare to activate with the Hawaiian National Guard if necessary.
“After Tuesday’s election, it’s clear Democratic primary voters have chosen Vice President Joe Biden to be the person who will take on President Donald Trump in the general election,” Gabbard said from Oahu. “Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart and he’s motivated by his love for our country and the American people.”
While the announcement figures to have minimal impact at this stage of the race, it’s notable as Gabbard was both the last female and last minority candidate standing in what began as an incredibly diverse Democratic field.
The early exits of candidates like Senators Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and now Gabbard have left voters with two candidates in the Democratic primary, both white men over the age of 75 – Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Gabbard, who claims to be the first Hindu to run for president and was the first American Samoan elected to Congress, entered the race in February 2019 and appeared in several of the first Democratic debates. In perhaps her most notable debate performance, Gabbard accused Sen. Harris of hiding evidence and prosecuting minorities for low-level offenses during her stint as California attorney general.
“The people who suffered under your reign as prosecutor, you owe them an apology,” Gabbard said during the July 2019 debate in Detroit.
But Gabbard soon lost traction in the polls and didn’t qualify for any of the debates leading up to the contests in Iowa and more importantly Super Tuesday. She often appeared on Fox News to rip the Democratic Party establishment and routinely accused the media of biased coverage.
With her upstart campaign losing momentum, Gabbard made headlines in January when she sued Hillary Clinton after the former secretary of state called Gabbard a “Russian asset.”
“She’s the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton said during the October 2019 podcast with David Plouffe. “They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”
Gabbard, who has represented the 2nd District of Hawaii for four terms, slapped Clinton with a defamation lawsuit and asked a judge in New York’s Southern District for $50 million in damages. Last week, Clinton filed to dismiss the lawsuit and called it a ploy to make “political headlines.”
The clash emboldened her most dedicated supporters but was another example of Gabbard’s willingness to offend the party’s base.
Gabbard also made waves during Trump’s impeachment proceedings by voting present on the two articles. She defended her decision by casting the trial as a “partisan endeavor” fueled by “tribal animosities.”
In interviews and on the campaign trail, Gabbard touted her military service and focused her rhetoric on foreign policy. She also advocated for criminal justice reforms, calling for the legalization of marijuana, ending cash bail and banning private prisons. On health care, Gabbard supported a single-payer system and she also promised to slash fossil fuel subsidies.
After more than a year on the trail, Gabbard promised Thursday to throw her support behind Biden’s bid for the White House.
“I’m confident that he will lead our country guided by the spirit of aloha, respect and compassion, and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart.”