Marianne Williamson ends long-shot Democratic challenge to Joe Biden

8 February 2024, 09:04

Marianne Williamson
Election 2024 Williamson. Picture: PA

US President Joe Biden is now more firmly in command of the Democratic primary.

Self-help author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson has announced the end of her long-shot Democratic challenge to President Joe Biden.

The 71-year-old one-time spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey contemplated suspending her campaign last month after winning just 5,000 votes in New Hampshire’s primary, writing that she “had to decide whether now is the time for a dignified exit or continue on our campaign journey”.

Ms Williamson ultimately opted to continue on for two more primaries, but won just 2% of the vote in South Carolina and about 3% in Nevada.

“I hope future candidates will take what works for them, drinking from the well of information we prepared,” Ms Williamson wrote in announcing the end of her bid.

“My team and I brought to the table some great ideas, and I will take pleasure when I see them live on in campaigns and candidates yet to be created.”

Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips is the last nationally known Democrat still running against Mr Biden, who has scored blowout victories in South Carolina and Nevada and easily won in New Hampshire – despite not being on the ballot – after his allies mounted a write-in campaign.

Mr Biden is now more firmly in command of the Democratic primary.

That is little surprise given that he is a sitting president, but it also defies years of low job approval ratings for Mr Biden and polls showing that most Americans – even a majority of Democrats – do not want him to run again.

Ms Williamson first ran for president in 2020 and made national headlines by calling for a “moral uprising” against then-president Donald Trump while proposing the creation of the Department of Peace.

She also argued that the federal government should pay large financial reparations to black Americans as atonement for centuries of slavery and discrimination.

Her second White House bid featured the same non-traditional campaigning style and many of the same policy proposals.

But she struggled to raise money and was plagued by staff departures from her bid’s earliest stages.

She tweaked Mr Biden, an avid Amtrak fan, by kicking off her campaign at Washington’s Union Station and campaigned especially hard in New Hampshire, hoping to capitalise on state Democrats’ frustration with the president.

President Joe Biden boarding Air Force One
President Joe Biden boarding Air Force One (Andrew Harnik/AP)

That followed a new plan by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), championed by Mr Biden, that reordered the party’s 2024 presidential primary calendar by leading off with South Carolina on February 3.

Ms Williamson acknowledged from the start that it was unlikely she would beat Mr Biden, but she argued in her launch speech in March that “it is our job to create a vision of justice and love that is so powerful that it will override the forces of hatred and injustice and fear”.

The DNC is not holding primary debates, and Mr Biden’s challengers’ names may not appear on the Democratic primary ballots in some major states.

A Texas native who now lives in Beverly Hills, California, Ms Williamson is the author of more than a dozen books and ran an unsuccessful independent congressional campaign in California in 2014.

She ended her 2020 presidential run shortly before the lead-off Iowa caucuses, announcing that she did not want to take progressive support from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was ultimately the last candidate to drop out before Mr Biden locked up the nomination.

In exiting this cycle’s race she wrote that “while we did not succeed at running a winning political campaign, I know in my heart that we impacted the political ethers”.

“As with every other aspect of my career over the last forty years, I know how ideas float through the air forming ever new designs,” Ms Williamson said in an email to supporters announcing that she was no longer running.

“I will see and hear things in different situations and through different voices, and I will smile a small internal smile knowing in my heart where that came from.”

By Press Association

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