Kamala Harris, the first Indian American woman to run for the White House, has said she quit the race because she does not have the financial resources needed to continue and she is “not a billionaire” who can fund her own campaign.
Harris’s campaign was struggling with depleting resources and it had shut down several offices in recent weeks and laid off staffers. And there had been reports of bitter in-fighting among factions in the campaign.
Harris, the first Indian-American woman to run for the White House, told her supporters in an email she was suspending her campaign because of lack of funds. “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,” she wrote.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.,” she added. “It is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude — that I am suspending my campaign today.”
And in a barely concealed swipe at billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who are self-funding their campaigns for the Democratic presidential ticket, Harris said, “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign.”
Both Bloomberg and Steyer have been criticized by rivals for using their wealth to fuel their candidacy. Bloomberg joined the race recently with a record ad blitz of $33million for a week, which drew a scorching response from Senator Bernie Sanders, also a Democratic candidate for White House. “I am disgusted,” he fumed in a tweet.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, another candidate, said recently about Bloomberg and Steyer, “you just can’t simply allow wealthy people to come in and buy elections”.
Harris could still stay in the race, but as a running mate with whoever wins the presidential nomination eventually. Speculation started soon after she made her exit official that she could be picked for vice-president, refueling old rumors about joining former vice-president Joe Biden’s ticket.
Harris’s exit marks the end of yet another bid by an Indian American for the White House. The first was Bobby Jindal, the former Republican governor of Louisiana. He was the first Indian American, male or female, to run for US president. He did not last the bruising 2015-2016 Republican primaries that were dominated from start to finish by a New York business tycoon who went on win the White House, Donald Trump.
While Indian-Americans were excited that “one of them” was running for president, they had also watched with some disquiet as she ran as an African American — her mother was from Chennai, India and father from Jamaica. She was seen as “not owning her Indian-ness enough”, said a top Democratic strategist of Indian descent, who wanted not to be identified to be able to speak freely.
Harris, a first-time Democratic senator from California, had entered the race with much fanfare and excitement. She was seen as tough, smart and charismatic and was seen in the same mould as President Barack Obama — one TV show host called her the “female Obama”. She had also reported high collections and made a mark in the first debates with an epic take down of Biden, the frontrunner.
Even while Harris polled among the top five candidates for months, her candidacy was marked by ambivalence and confusion on issues closest to Democrats, such as healthcare. The senator seemed averse to taking risks and often second-guessed herself. She made several flip-flops that raised serious questions about her understanding of the issue.
Harris began slipping in polls and her campaign appeared to be in trouble. She was sixth in the December 2 RealClearPolitics average of polls at 3.4%, behind Biden, Senators Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Businessman Michael Bloomberg.
There are now 15 candidates left in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination to take on President Donald Trump in 2020 and try and deny him a second term.