Marianne Williamson drops out of 2020 presidential race

The self-help author struggled to be taken seriously in the crowded Democratic field, but her colorful debate performances went viral.

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By Micki Fahner and Alex Seitz-Wald

Self-help author Marianne Williamson announced Friday she is ending her unlikely presidential campaign, a week after laying off nearly her entire campaign staff.

The best-selling author and spiritual adviser struggled to be taken seriously in the crowded Democratic 2020 field, despite spending nearly a year campaigning in early voting states and the viral success of her colorful debate performances.

"I stayed in the race to take advantage of every possible opportunity to share our message," Williamson said in an email to supporters on Friday. "With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now."

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She added that since the primaries will likely be tightly contested, saying, "I don't want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of them."

The non-traditional candidate built her campaign around themes of love and "big truth." Her campaign slogan encouraged voters to "join the evolution," a play on the political "revolution" some of the other candidates promised to ignite. Williamson made slavery reparations, child welfare and a proposed "Department of Peace" pillars of her platform.

Williamson has never held political office, but she said that's one of the reasons she wanted to run for president.

"I think that it's so important not to lockout of politics people who do come from other parts of the culture," Williamson told NBC News at a dance party campaign stop in May. "There's a lot of seriousness and a lot of deep-thinking and a lot of creative energy and imagination going on in other corners of society — more so than within traditional politics, and that's why I’m running."

The candidate drew criticism for her skeptical questioning of vaccine mandates, and for comments about depression and mental illness.

Williamson's main splash in the mainstream came through viral moments during the first two Democratic debates, earning her online support and inspiring a bevy of memes and making her one of the most Googled candidates after early debates, according to the search giant.

On policy, she aligned herself with progressives Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

"Things are changing swiftly and dramatically in this country, and I have faith that something is awakening among us," Williamson concluded in her message to supporters. "A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love will prevail."