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‘One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises.’ Warren talks about gender as she ends presidential bid

Elizabeth Warren made a "pinky promise" during a campaign event in New Hampshire.Matt Rourke/AP/file

As Senator Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the presidential race on Thursday, she paid homage to the young girls she met on the campaign trail who hoped she would become the first female president, and she addressed the difficulties of running for the nation’s highest office as a woman.

“One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinky promises, and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That’s going to be hard,” she said outside her Cambridge home Thursday, shortly after announcing to her staff that she would drop out.

The nod to “pinky promises” stems from a ritual the Massachusetts senator developed over her 14 months of campaigning. As she greeted voters in selfie lines after her campaign events, she would often take a moment to tell young girls why she was running:


In her remarks to reporters, Warren also addressed an elephant in the room: After starting out as one of the most diverse presidential fields in history, the race for the Democratic nomination is now a battle between two white men in their 70s.

“Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman," Warren said. "If you say, ‘yeah there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says ‘whiner,’ and if you say no there was no sexism, about a bazillion women think, ‘what planet do you live on?’ "

Warren consistently faced concerns about her “electability" in a general election, a question many critics claimed was really about gender. Warren on Thursday promised she had more to say on the subject.

The gender issue was echoed by other powerful women in politics on Thursday in the wake of Warren’s departure, including Senator Kamala Harris, a former rival Democratic candidate.

“When you look at the people, the women, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, and you look at their records of work as national leaders on some of the biggest issues that impact America, it’s a shame that there are no women left in the race,” she said.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during a Thursday press conference that she thinks the United States is ready for a woman president, but lamented that it will not happen this election cycle.

“Every time I get introduced as ‘the most powerful woman,’ I always cry because I think, ‘I wish that were not true.’ I so wish that we had a woman President of the United States, and we came very close to doing that,” she said.

But Senator Tammy Duckworth offered an optimistic view Thursday of the state of women in politics.

“For the first time, we had a record number of women running for president, and I think that trend is only going to grow, and it’s an encouraging trend," she said. "We’ll see where we end up, but I think that if you’re looking at the Democratic Party versus Republicans, we are by far more diverse, and we have far more women in leadership in our party than the Republicans. At the end of the day it’s about beating Donald Trump, and I think right now that Joe Biden’s the best candidate to do that.”

Laura Krantz of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her @cprignano.