Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said on Sunday that his loved ones were disheartened by Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-Calif.) decision to drop out of the 2020 presidential race, and he blamed money in politics for her departure.
“Kamala Harris stopped her campaign because of the campaign finance rules and the fact that she couldn’t do what we see billionaires do in this race, which is flooding ads to jack up their polling numbers and get in,” he told ABC News’ “This Week.”
“There are a lot of people hurt this week, including members of my family and friends who are supporting me,” Booker added, praising Harris as an “incredibly talented African American woman” who has “broken glass ceilings at every point of her career.”
Harris withdrew on Tuesday, leaving an all-white set of candidates who have so far qualified for the next debate on Dec. 19. None of the remaining candidates of color ― Booker, businessman Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick ― has yet made the cut.
In an email to supporters, Harris cited financial troubles as the death knell of her 2020 bid.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign,” she wrote. “And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
Just before her announcement, The New York Times reported that a financial audit revealed Harris would have to push her campaign into debt if she continued.
While Booker suggested the playing field is unfair for candidates who are not among the ultra-rich, none of the current front-runners ― former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ― are billionaires.
Conversely, billionaires in the race haven’t fared well in national polls. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who entered the race last month, is at 2% in The New York Times’ national polling average, and philanthropist Tom Steyer has been unable to climb out of the single digits at 1%. Meanwhile, both have launched enormously expensive ad campaigns in efforts to boost their bids.
Harris rocketed to stardom among the crowded field of Democrats when, during a debate in June, she called out Biden’s past opposition to busing to desegregate schools. She subsequently shot to 15% in the polls, tumbling back down from late summer into the fall as funding dwindled.