Moseley Braun exits Democratic race

A shortage of funds and a desire to boost Howard Dean’s chances in the Iowa caucuses led Carol Moseley Braun to drop out of the race Thursday for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to an Evanston alderman who held a key position in her campaign.

Moseley Braun, who from 1992 to 1998 served as a U.S. senator from Illinois and was the first black woman to run for president, announced her decision to withdraw at a campaign event in Carroll, Iowa. She called the former Vermont governor “a Democrat we can all be proud to support” in the race against President Bush.

“Gov. Dean has the energy to inspire the American people, to break the cocoon of fear that envelopes us and empowers President Bush and his entourage from the extreme right wing,” said Moseley Braun, who spoke with Dean at her side.

Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl (7th), who served as co-chairwoman of Moseley Braun’s presidential exploratory committee, said a lack of funds was a primary reason for ending Moseley Braun’s campaign.

“She was wonderful in the debates and wonderful on policy and terrible on fundraising,” said Tisdahl, who spoke with Moseley Braun the day before she dropped out.

Alice Tregay, a volunteer with Moseley Braun’s senatorial and presidential campaigns, said the decision came at the right time.

“I like the idea of her running for president,” Tregay said. “But just to stay in there would have been a mistake without the support or the money.”

Tregay added that Moseley Braun probably will remain in politics, possibly even as a member of a Dean administration.

Moseley Braun won more support than any other female candidate in history, said Bonnie Grabenhofer, president of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for Women, which endorsed Moseley Braun.

“She was on stage and she said to the people ‘women can be part of this,'” said Grabenhofer, who was also one of Moseley Braun’s Illinois delegates. “I think she already won.”

Moseley Braun placed her name on primary ballots in 21 states, Grabenhofer added.

Although Tisdahl said she and other campaign members have yet to decide whom to endorse, she thinks Moseley Braun will provide crucial help for Dean in Monday’s caucuses.

“There’s not a lot of African-Americans in Iowa, but there’s a lot of women,” said Tisdahl, who is looking forward to the election. “Everyone should participate and should vote and that way we’d have a much stronger country.”

Moseley Braun will help counter accusations from the Rev. Al Sharpton that Dean was insensitive to minorities when he failed to appoint a single non-white member to his cabinet while governor of Vermont, Tisdahl said.

Evanston resident Katie Trippi, whose company creates campaign ads for Dean and whose ex-husband Joe Trippi is Dean’s campaign manager, said she was thrilled to learn that Moseley Braun decided to endorse Dean.

“I think she’s a very influential public person in Illinois,” Trippi said. “The way she has articulated her reason for being behind Dean can’t do anything but help the Dean campaign.”