Braun Drops Out, Endorses Dean

Cynthia Moothart

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois today ended her bid for president and endorsed Howard Dean at a campaign stop in Iowa just days before the caucuses there. She joins Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and other former presidential hopefuls Al Gore, Bill Bradley and the late Paul Simon in backing the former Vermont governor.

Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, struggled throughout her campaign to raise money and build an organization. Despite an endorsement by the National Organization of Women, she failed to gain traction in early balloting states and was the only candidate not to buy advertising.

She is the second casualty in the Democratic presidential primary: Sen. Bob Graham of Florida pulled out of the race in early October citing failures to gain momentum or raise cash.

Braun didn’t mention her decision to leave the race in a Wednesday night appearance on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” but sources indicate that she has been evaluating the state of her campaign for weeks. During Sunday’s MSNBC candidate forum devoted to minority issues, she defended Dean and criticized civil rights activist Al Sharpton for his attacks. Braun and Dean met privately in Des Moines after the debate and she reportedly told the former governor that she was considering dropping out and supporting him.

According to published reports, the presidential run was beginning to create a financial burden on Braun, and year-end financial reports, due at the end of the month, are expected to show her campaign in the red.

It’s unclear what Braun’s endorsement will mean to Monday’s Iowa caucuses; her support in the state was so minimal that she failed to register in a poll of major candidates last week. But the move could have a positive impact on her public life—particularly if Dean is the eventual nominee. After being ousted from the Senate in 1998 by Republican Peter Fitzgerald, Braun spent two years as ambassador to New Zealand under the Clinton administration.

Most recently she taught law and political science at Morris Brown College and DePaul University.

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Cynthia Moothart is managing editor for content at In These Times.
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