WASHINGTON (AP) — Elizabeth Warren huddled with her campaign advisers on Wednesday to determine if there was a reason to stay in the Democratic presidential race after a dismal Super Tuesday that saw her finishing no higher than third in any state — including her own.
An aide to the Massachusetts senator said she was speaking to staffers and assessing the path forward. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal campaign moves.
The disappointing results in Massachusetts — and a decidedly underwhelming showing in other Super Tuesday contests — marked a striking collapse for the onetime favorite of progressives who was known for having a plan for nearly everything. Warren had built an impressive campaign infrastructure stretching across much of the country, but it didn’t help her much in the 14 states that went to the polls on the biggest day on the Democratic primary calendar.
On top of mediocre showings in the first four contests — she never finished higher than third place there, either — Warren trailed significantly in the delegate count. Tuesday’s results could speed her exit from the race.
Warren finished well behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who won the Massachusetts primary, and fellow progressive Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who attracted 10,000-plus people to a rally last weekend on Boston Common — mere miles from Warren’s home near Harvard University.
Sanders said Wednesday afternoon that he had spoken to Warren earlier in the day, though it was unclear whether she would endorse him — or anyone else — should she leave the race.
On Super Tuesday, as results were starting to come in, Warren appeared set on remaining in the race. Speaking to supporters in Detroit ahead of next week’s Michigan primary, she introduced herself as “the woman who’s going to beat Donald Trump.” The senator encouraged supporters to tune out the results and vote for the person they believed would be the best president, saying: “Prediction has been a terrible business and the pundits have gotten it wrong over and over.”
“You don’t get what you don’t fight for. I am in this fight,” she added.
Warren’s campaign had all the early markers of success — robust poll numbers, impressive fundraising and a national organization — but she was squeezed out by Sanders, who had an immovable base of support among progressives she needed to win over. Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Warren’s campaign said it was betting on a contested convention — though with a quickly consolidating field, that was no sure bet, and she appeared set to enter that convention trailing at least two candidates significantly in the delegate count.
Trump, who follows the Democratic nomination fight closely and enjoys stoking divisions within the party, sought to blame Warren for Sanders’ lackluster Super Tuesday showing.
“Wow! If Elizabeth Warren wasn’t in the race, Bernie Sanders would have EASILY won Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas, not to mention various other states,” he tweeted. He added: “She may very well go down as the all time great SPOILER!”
He weighed in on the Democratic field again during a meeting at the White House later Wednesday, calling Warren “selfish” for staying in the race.
Warren’s lagging performance threatened to force out from the race its last top female contender — only Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard remains, and she has earned just one delegate, from her native American Samoa.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out Monday, joining Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to endorse Biden’s surging candidacy. It marked an unexpected twist in a party that had used the votes and energy of women to retake control of the House, primarily with female candidates, just two years ago.
Warren’s campaign began with enormous promise that she could carry that momentum into the presidential race. Last summer, she drew tens of thousands of supporters to Manhattan’s Washington Square Park, a scene that was repeated in places like Washington state and Minnesota.
She appeared to hit her stride as she hammered the idea that more moderate Democratic candidates, including Biden, weren’t ambitious enough to roll back Trump’s policies and were too reliant on political consultants and fickle polling.
But Warren has been unable to consolidate the support of the Democratic Party’s most liberal wing against the race’s other top progressive, Sanders. Both support universal, government-sponsored health care, tuition-free public college and aggressive climate change fighting measures while forgoing big fundraisers in favor of small donations fueled by the internet.