Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who presented herself in the presidential race as a champion of women and families, said Wednesday that she was withdrawing from the Democratic primary after failing to qualify for a third debate next month — a development she described as fatal to her candidacy.
Ms. Gillibrand said in an interview that she would endorse another candidate in the primary but had not yet picked a favorite. Though she stopped short of saying she would endorse a woman, Ms. Gillibrand, who has made electing women to Congress a personal cause, said the next president had to be capable of uniting the country and suggested that a woman might be best suited for the job.
“I think that women have a unique ability to bring people together and heal this country,” Ms. Gillibrand said, adding, “I think a woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting.”
But she added: “I will support whoever the nominee is, and I will do whatever it takes to beat Trump.”
Ms. Gillibrand, 52, had anchored her candidacy in issues of women’s equality, with a strong emphasis on abortion rights. She pledged to screen nominees for judgeships based on their support for the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, and held rallies in two Republican-leaning states, Georgia and Missouri, where conservative lawmakers recently passed new restrictions on the procedure.
Ms. Gillibrand also repeatedly challenged former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic front-runner, over his record on women’s rights. She assailed him in June for supporting a law that bars federal funding for abortion, a stance Mr. Biden soon recanted. In the most recent primary debate, Ms. Gillibrand criticized Mr. Biden for having opposed a proposal in the early 1980s to expand the child tax credit; Mr. Biden described that as ancient history and questioned the sincerity of Ms. Gillibrand’s rebuke.
Her energetic advocacy did not lift Ms. Gillibrand in the polls in a race full of candidates supportive of abortion rights, including three other female senators. Like so many other candidates, she found herself squeezed for a space in a primary contest dominated by Mr. Biden and a handful of progressives jockeying to overtake him.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Alexander Burns