Tulsi Gabbard Drops Out After Staying in Race Longest of Any Low-Polling Candidate

Tulsi Gabbard, whose bid to become president failed to amass a large following, on Thursday suspended her campaign to become the Democratic nominee.

The Hawaii congresswoman cited the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the globe, saying in an email to supporters that she'll focus on helping constituents.

"I feel that the best way I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress, and to stand ready to serve in uniform should the Hawaii National Guard be activated," Gabbard, a combat veteran who is a reserve member, said in an email to supporters.

She served two tours of duty in the Middle East and briefly suspended her campaign last year in August to voluntarily serve two weeks of active duty with the Army National Guard in Indonesia.

Accompanied with the announcement of her exit from the race was an endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, who increased his status as front-runner after sweeping Illinois, Arizona and Florida earlier this week against his opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Gabbard offered her "full support" for Biden, despite backing Sanders in 2016.

"After Tuesday's primary results, it is clear that Democratic Primary voters have chosen [former] Vice President Joe Biden to be the person who will take on President Trump in the general election," Gabbard continued, citing Biden's "quest to bring our country together."

Tulsi Gabbard drops out Democratic presidential race
Former Democratic presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds a Town Hall meeting on Super Tuesday Primary night on March 3 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty

Though the Hawaii congresswoman does "not agree with the [former] Vice President on every issue," she expounded, "I know that he has a good heart and is motivated by his love for our country and the American people."

Gabbard, who is not seeking re-election in Congress, accrued only two delegates throughout the primary. She failed to pick up any additional delegates because she did not reach the 15 percent viability threshold to be eligible for them.

Her exit from the race left just two official candidates: Biden and Sanders, who had about 1,142 delegates and 824, respectively.

Throughout her candidacy, Gabbard experienced low polling numbers, most often in the single digits. Her fundraising and polling numbers prevented her from appearing on stage for several debates during the past few months because she did not qualify for them. At times throughout her campaign, she even threatened to boycott the debates she qualified for over a perceived unfairness from the media.

Gabbard's adamant stance against U.S. involvement in "regime-change wars" and military conflicts abroad made her foreign policy views stand out from many of her Democratic colleagues and was one of the reasons she remained in the contest as long as she did.

In her email to supporters, Gabbard vowed to continue her advocacy against U.S. military intervention abroad and to promote "21st century foreign policy."

"I will continue to do everything I can to help bring an end to the new Cold War and nuclear arms race, and end regime change wars, which are costing us trillions of dollars, so we can invest these precious resources in the needs of the American people — health care, rebuilding our infrastructure, education, and so much more," she said.

Though Gabbard's candidacy far out-paced her ability to clinch the nomination, she's not the first Democratic contender to stick it out.

Dennis Kucinich, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio, didn't officially drop out of the 2004 primary until just days before the party's summer convention, when John Kerry won the nomination. Aware the delegate math was long stacked against him, Kucinich said at the time that his mission was to influence the party on foreign policy and interject his anti-war stance into the fray.

''The reason I have not dropped out of the race is that we may have a nominee, but the future direction of the Democratic Party has not yet been determined," he told The New York Times at the time.