Kamala Harris, the California senator, has dropped out of the race to win the Democratic presidential nomination to take on Donald Trump at the 2020 election.
Ms Harris was seeking to be the first ever black woman nominated for president by the two major political parties and had been widely touted as a strong contender.
However after a brief polling surge when she challenged Joe Biden, the former US vice president and front-runner, on the debate stage Ms Harris has sunk to low single digits in national polling.
The source of her struggles appears to have been a mix of being caught between clear Left and Centre pitches from rivals, lack of policy clarity over policies like healthcare and nagging questions over electability .
In a message to supporters announcing the news, Ms Harris wrote: “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.
“In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.
“So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret – but also with deep gratitude – that I am suspending my campaign today.”
Ms Harris, who had earned a nationwide reputation for her fierce grillings of Republicans during congressional committee hearings in Washington DC, was seen as a formidable candidate as the race began.
A former California attorney general, Ms Harris, 55, attracted more than 20,000 people to her launch in her home state for a campaign built around the idea of restoring justice to America.
Her standout moment came in the first televised debate in June when she directly challenged Mr Biden over his past stance on busing children to schools to help break down racial segregation.
The exchange, the first time Mr Biden was taken to task by a rival before the cameras, became the night’s standout moment, replayed by cable TV news and shooting Ms Harris briefly into joint second in national polling.
But since that high, where around 15 per cent of Democrats said they were backing her in surveys, Ms Harris has steadily slipped to an average of 3.4 per cent, according to a poll of polls from the political website Real Clear Politics.
Ms Harris leaned in to the historic significance of her candidacy from the start, adopting a yellow and purple colour scheme similar to that used by the first African-American woman to run for the presidency, Shirley Chisholm, in 1972.
Her failure to build on early momentum in the polls has perplexed political experts, with left-wing senator Elizabeth Warren and little-known moderate Pete Buttigieg instead cementing their places in the top four alongside Mr Biden and Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist.
One theory is that in a race centred on a battle between the party’s progressives and moderates, Ms Harris was caught in the middle, trying to appeal to both camps.
Her lack of clarity on healthcare, the most significant policy issue in the race, became emblematic of that challenge. She first backed a ‘Medicare for All’ plan which would give all Americans public health insurance, then insisted under her plan some people could keep their private insurance.
Among a Democratic electorate which surveys suggests prizes the ability to stop Mr Trump over all over qualities in a presidential candidate, Ms Harris also had to repeatedly argue why she was best placed to deliver victory.
She was also dogged by questions about her record as attorney general in California, including stances on the death penalty and jail terms for people caught smoking cannabis, which frayed her ties to the party’s left-wing.
During debates she varied her approach, from challenging to Mr Biden to looking down the camera and speaking directly to Donald Trump. But as summer turned to autumn her numbers continued to fall.
With the race attracting new entrants, such as former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and the threshold for reaching future debates rising, Ms Harris has decided to end her bid.
Near the end of her 600-word message to supporters, Ms Harris wrote: "I want to be clear: although I am no longer running for President, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.
“I know you will too. So let’s do that together.”
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