Elizabeth Warren Drops Presidential Bid

Mar 5, 2020
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Elizabeth Warren is out. The Massachusetts senator is leaving the presidential race after a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday. A senior campaign aide has confirmed to NPR News that she will suspend her campaign today. NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben has been covering the Warren campaign and is in our studios. Good morning.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Hello.

INSKEEP: Did Warren have any choice after not winning many delegates on Tuesday?

KURTZLEBEN: I mean, not really, no. It was practically impossible at this point, really, for her to win. What already seemed like a narrow path going into Super Tuesday...

INSKEEP: Yeah.

KURTZLEBEN: ...Seemed like a virtually nonexistent path by the end of it. I mean, she may have had money left over. She pulled in quite a bit of money after really slamming Michael Bloomberg during that debate. But if you can't win the delegates, then, you know, you might imagine her thinking, well, what's the point?

INSKEEP: I want to figure out what happened here because Warren is very well known, has been popular among Democrats for a long time, had a very organized campaign...

KURTZLEBEN: Sure.

INSKEEP: ...Raised a lot of money, was the front-runner in polls at some point last year. What went wrong?

KURTZLEBEN: I mean, we're going to be doing those sort of postmortems for a while, I'm sure. There are any number of things. I mean, there was some dissatisfaction back in the fall, right around the time that her polls dropped with her responses to questions about Medicare for All.

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah.

KURTZLEBEN: Example - the woman with a plan for everything didn't have a plan at first for how to pay for Medicare for All or then a plan that seemed to satisfy debate moderators, some voters, as far as how to pay for that, you know, taxing or not taxing the middle class. But aside from that, listen - there are voters who did - who were very worried about Donald Trump, about electability. There are definitely voters on that trail who said, I like Elizabeth Warren. I don't know if she can beat him. I'll vote for someone else. So that was definitely another part of it.

INSKEEP: I've been fascinated to interview voters, including women...

KURTZLEBEN: Yes.

INSKEEP: ...Who have said, I don't think a woman can win. I - we got to win this election, got to vote for a man. And this is - I'm quoting women who have said this. It's remarkable.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. I mean, I got to say, I've spoken to a lot of voters - this is anecdotal but based on a lot of interviews. I heard that way more - I heard that more often from women than men, by the way. So there's a lot to unpack there.

INSKEEP: Yeah. Yeah. And who knows? And maybe men thought that way as well...

KURTZLEBEN: Sure. Absolutely.

INSKEEP: ...And weren't so comfortable saying it. But in any case, people were saying that, and that may well have been a factor, anecdotally, in what happened to Elizabeth Warren here. Now, let's talk about the decision that you have learned that she is making today.

KURTZLEBEN: Sure.

INSKEEP: Pete Buttigieg pulled out. Amy Klobuchar pulled out a few days ago. And both of those were seen as strategic moves to bolster a mainstream candidate - Joe Biden.

KURTZLEBEN: Sure.

INSKEEP: Warren is more on the Bernie Sanders side of things. Is she doing this to help Bernie Sanders?

KURTZLEBEN: That's (laughter) - I don't have inside information on that. I have - I really don't know. But listen - when you look at polls in terms of who people's second choices are, there's a poll from Morning Consult, a few days old at this point, which might as well be a lifetime ago.

INSKEEP: Another planet.

KURTZLEBEN: But at the very least, it is not as if all of Elizabeth Warren's supporters are going - appear like they're going to jump ship to Bernie Sanders. Around 40% of her supporters at the time said he was their second choice, which leaves 60%. They may go to him; they may go to Joe Biden. It's not entirely clear.

INSKEEP: Oh, so we do not know exactly why Warren dropped out now, other than the brutal reality of the numbers.

KURTZLEBEN: Right.

INSKEEP: And we don't know who this helps yet.

KURTZLEBEN: No, absolutely not. It's easy - I mean, listen - policywise she's closer to Bernie Sanders, but we don't know exactly voterwise - since voters don't necessarily vote on ideology or policy, we don't know exactly who is going to come out better for this.

INSKEEP: Nor do we know who she would choose to endorse, if anyone.

KURTZLEBEN: No, we do not. She has a history of friction with Joe Biden, especially over bankruptcy. But I mean, she had been slamming the two of them in recent speeches on the trail as well.

INSKEEP: Danielle, thanks for your reporting. Really appreciate it.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah. Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben on this morning when we have learned that Elizabeth Warren is about to suspend her presidential campaign. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.