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Marianne Williamson drops out of Democratic presidential race

Marianne Williamson speaks at a the Faith, Politics and the Common Good Forum, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Des Moines.
Marianne Williamson speaks at a the Faith, Politics and the Common Good Forum, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Des Moines. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Marianne Williamson, the self-help author who has argued that the United States needs to have “a moral and spiritual awakening,” has ended her long-shot presidential campaign, she said Friday.

Williamson had laid off her entire national staff in late December, but insisted last week she would remain in the race. In an email to supporters Friday, however, she said it would be difficult “to elevate our conversation any more than it is now” with caucuses and primaries about to begin.

“I stayed in the race to take advantage of every possible opportunity to share our message,” Williamson wrote. “The primaries might be tightly contested among the top contenders, and I don’t want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of them. As of today, therefore, I’m suspending my campaign.”

Williamson began exploring a presidential run in November 2018 and officially announced her candidacy last January, joining what would become a crowded Democratic field that included several sitting lawmakers.

“I have great respect for political experts, but the idea that only experienced politicians can lead us at this point in our history is preposterous,” she wrote then on her website.

During her un­or­tho­dox campaign, Williamson proposed creating a “U.S. Department of Peace” and argued she would “harness love” to defeat President Trump if she were the Democratic nominee.

She memorably made headlines — and gave late-night talk-show hosts plenty of fodder — when she said her first act as president would be to call New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and challenge her claim that New Zealand was the best place for a child to grow up.

“I would tell her, ‘Girlfriend, you are so on,’ because the United States of America is going to be the best place in the world for a child to grow up,” Williamson said onstage at the first Democratic debate in June.

After Williamson failed to qualify for the October Democratic debate in Ohio, she nevertheless vowed to stay in the race.

“Last night’s debate was a lot of things, but it was not exciting,” she wrote in a guest op-ed for The Washington Post the next day. “It contained no magic. If anything, it reduced some very nice people to behavior their mothers probably raised them not to engage in.”

Though she would outlast more than a half-dozen Democratic candidates — including multiple senators and governors — Williamson began dramatically scaling back her campaign late in the year.

At the end of December, she laid off all her campaign staff across the country, said former New Hampshire Rep. Paul Hodes, who was a senior adviser and her New Hampshire state director. About 45 staffers were let go in total, he said.

“There’s no indication at this time that she’s suspending her campaign,” Hodes said last week, noting at the time that Williamson’s campaign office in Concord was still open and being run by volunteers. “I wish Marianne well going forward.”