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Sen. Kamala Harris suspends presidential bid


Sen. Kamala Harris has suspended her presidential bid, bringing to a close her historic effort to secure the Democratic nomination.

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“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” the California lawmaker wrote in a letter to supporters. “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete. In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do. So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude — that I am suspending my campaign today.”

Harris took a hard look at the campaign’s resources over the Thanksgiving holiday and made the decision Monday after discussing the path forward with her family and senior aides, a senior Harris aide told ABC News. She will travel to the early states this week to personally and privately thank staff and supporters there for their hard work and dedication to the campaign, the aide added.

Harris’ announcement comes after her campaign drastically cut her staff in October, funneling most of her campaign’s resources toward working on a strong victory in Iowa and leaving other early voting states such as New Hampshire and South Carolina with minimal staffing and funding.

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., pauses as she speaks at a town hall event at the Culinary Workers Union, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Las Vegas. John Locher/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., pauses as she speaks at a town hall event at the Culinary Workers Union, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Las Vegas.

“I’m moving to Iowa,” the senator joked at rallies, as she vowed to campaign in the state each week.

Still she plateaued in the polls in the single digits. In a recent ABC News and Washington Post poll, Harris only garnered 2% support among Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents.

Harris entered the race in January speaking before a crowd of 20,000 people, one of the largest in the 2020 cycle. The senator’s presidential hopes were amplified by a sudden boost of support after a breakthrough moment during the first Democratic presidential debate. On the debate stage, Harris, who is black and Indian American, challenged former Vice President Joe Biden on his past stances on busing policies.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me,” Harris said.

On Tuesday, Biden complimented Harris as a competitor.

“She is a first rate intellect, a first rate candidate and a real competitor,” he told reporters at an event in Iowa. “I have mixed emotions about it because she is really a solid, solid person and loaded with talent. I’m sure she’s not dropping out on wanting to make the changes she cares about.”

Those changes, Harris underscored on the trail and in her letter to supporters, centered on “fighting for people whose voices have not been heard or too often ignored.”

On the campaign trail, Harris’ record as district attorney of San Francisco and later attorney general of California, became a frequent area of criticism from her fellow presidential contenders.

PHOTO: Kamala Harris delivers her closing statement flanked by Joe Biden and Andrew Yang during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019.Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Kamala Harris delivers her closing statement flanked by Joe Biden and Andrew Yang during the second round of the second Democratic primary debate in Detroit, Michigan on July 31, 2019.

As a presidential candidate, Harris’ team sought to highlight her efforts as a progressive prosecutor who championed criminal justice reform and held the powerful accountable. In stump speeches across the country, Harris made a pitch to voters about why she was best poised to “prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump.”

Harris’ popularity rose in part because of her harsh questioning of Trump cabinet nominees such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It was those same skills her team tried to highlight as the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump got underway.

President Donald Trump weighed in on Harris’ campaign suspension with a short tweeted response: “Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!”

Earlier in the day, the Trump campaign and some of its staffers mocked Harris on social media over dropping out of the Democratic primary on Tuesday —including congratulating Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, a candidate with whom the California senator had differed on the debate stage.

“Somehow we will press on,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told ABC News when asked about Harris suspending her campaign.

Harris responded to Trump on Twitter on Tuesday night with a promise: “Don’t worry, Mr. President. I’ll see you at your trial.”

For her part, Gabbard wished Harris well tweeting “Sending my best wishes to @KamalaHarris, her family & supporters who have campaigned so hard. While we disagree on some issues, we agree on others & I respect her sincere desire to serve the American people. I look forward to working together on the challenges we face as a nation.”

Others, such as former Democratic presidential nominee and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro also lauded Harris for her efforts.

“I’m so thankful for @KamalaHarris’s friendship and candidacy in this race. As a child of immigrants, she’s been a lifelong fighter for opportunity and justice for all Americans, and I’m glad she’ll keep fighting for an America where everyone counts,” he tweeted.

Former Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to offer words of encouragement to those who volunteer for candidates who end bids.

“To all the candidates, staff, and volunteers who have worked their hearts out for presidential campaigns that have ended—remember that fighting for what you believe in is always worth it,” she tweeted.

ABC News’ MaryAlice Parks and Will Steakin contributed to this report.





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Court rejects federal government’s bid to put Indigenous child welfare ruling on hold


OTTAWA — The Federal Court has rejected a request from Ottawa to press pause on a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering compensation for First Nations children who were unnecessarily removed from their families and communities due to underfunding of the on-reserve child welfare system.

The decision means the federal government will have to submit a plan to the tribunal by Jan. 29, 2020 detailing how compensation could be paid out. However, Ottawa will continue to fight the tribunal’s ruling in court, arguing there are flaws in its decision.

The government maintains it does want to compensate First Nations children who suffered due to underfunding of child and family services. On Monday, federal ministers announced Ottawa is looking to negotiate compensation through a separate class-action lawsuit that would cover a larger number of people than the tribunal ruling.

“Nothing changes our strong belief that we must compensate First Nations children harmed by past government policies,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller’s office told the National Post in a statement on Friday. “We will continue to seek a solution that will provide comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation for First Nations children in care.”

The case concerns a human rights complaint initially filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations. In September, the tribunal found the government wilfully and recklessly discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding child and family services on reserve and in the Yukon, which created an incentive to remove Indigenous children from their homes and communities. It found each child who was unnecessarily taken into care starting on Jan. 1, 2006 is entitled to $40,000 in compensation.

It also ruled the government should pay compensation to parents and grandparents and to Indigenous children who were denied essential services covered under Jordan’s principle, which states that the needs of First Nations children should take precedence over jurisdictional disputes about who should pay for them.

The government filed a legal challenge of the decision in October, and also asked the Federal Court to stay the ruling pending the outcome of that judicial review.

We will continue to seek a solution that will provide comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation

A hearing on the motion to stay was held in Ottawa earlier this week. On Friday, Federal Court Justice Paul Favel denied Ottawa’s request to put the process on hold, finding there would be no harm in the government discussing a compensation plan with the other parties. He pointed out that Canada doesn’t yet have to pay out compensation — it just has to make a plan.

“I’m pleased with it, because it allows the tribunal to continue with its work on the compensation process, so that’s the most important thing,” said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the Caring Society, in an interview.

She said the decision brings First Nations children one step closer to receiving compensation, but added that Canada continues to throw up roadblocks. “Are they going to stop fighting and do the right thing for kids, or are they going to continue to fight?” she said. “In which case, we will meet them in every courtroom.”

The tribunal originally ordered the parties to submit a compensation plan by Dec. 10, but this week pushed that deadline back to Jan. 29. In a letter on Wednesday, the tribunal wrote that the approaching deadline and Canada’s refusal to enter into discussions left it feeling “cornered.” There is no set date when Ottawa would have to start paying compensation.


Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

Codie McLachlan/Postmedia/File

During the hearing on Monday, a Justice Department lawyer argued the tribunal’s decision was flawed in part because it ordered the government to pay each child the same amount — the maximum $40,000 in compensation the tribunal is allowed to award. Robert Frater argued the decision took a “one-size-fits-all” approach that didn’t make distinctions “based on harms actually experienced.” He estimated the ruling would require payment of at least $5 or $6 billion.

Frater also argued the decision forces Canada to “take a piecemeal approach to settling,” because the ruling only affects Indigenous people who were involved in the child welfare system since 2006.

In contrast, the class-action lawsuit the government wants to settle covers children affected by the underfunding of child and family services dating back to 1991, but not their parents.

However, the Caring Society argues the children covered by the tribunal ruling shouldn’t have to wait longer simply because others also suffered. “If we wait for perfection, we’ll be back here again and again and again and again, and we’ll never have a solution,” said Barbara McIsaac, a lawyer for the Caring Society, during Monday’s hearing.

The Caring Society had sought to have the judicial review put on hold until the tribunal has issued another order with details about the compensation process. But Favel denied that motion as well, meaning both the tribunal process and the legal challenge seeking to have it overturned will proceed simultaneously.

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