Democratic 2020 hopeful Marianne Williamson is a best-selling new age author and a guru to the celebs. But her campaign hasn’t taken off. She’s languishing at less than 1% in national polls and did not qualify for the last pair of presidential debates.

Marianne Williamson, Ali Velshi at Georgetown University.

Marianne Williamson, Ali Velshi at Georgetown University. Photograph: MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

The disconnect between her professional success and her political failure to launch is, she said, “an illusion”.

During a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club in Washington, Williamson took umbrage at the insinuation her campaign was not gaining traction.

“I sure as heck did break through,” she told the moderator. “It’s called the second debate.”

Following a zany first debate appearance in which she challenged the prime minister of New Zealand and said she would “harness love” to beat Donald Trump, Williamson delivered a steadier performance in round two, receiving praise – and lots of Google searches – for her answers on race, reparations and the environment.

After her rise in polls, Williamson said the other candidates and the Washington elite increasingly saw her as a threat. Then, she said, a political “smear” campaign began to paint her as “crazy and dangerous”. At the event on Thursday, Williamson laid out her case for the nomination while touting her plan to establish a “Department of Peace,” the centerpiece of her campaign platform.

She talked about the layers of trauma average Americans face – food scarcity, homelessness, drug abuse, violence, among other issues. “Large groups of desperate people are a national security risk,” she said.
Williamson also expanded on her criticism of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which sets the rules for participation in the party’s presidential primary debates.

“It should be the purpose of the DNC to facilitate American democracy not dictate American democracy,” she said, decrying her exclusion from the debate stage.

In response to a question about whether she supported any military interventions in recent US history, Williamson said she is “not a pacifist”. She said she would have gone to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and added that, had she been president, she would have intervened in Rwanda.

Williamson fielded other questions that seemed tailored to her unique appeal: What did she make of Trump assertion that he deserves a Nobel Peace prize? She laughed, “Poor darlin’. I don’t think he could help himself.”

She has as much political experience as Trump when he ran for president – which is to say none – so why does she think she can do the job better?

She said Trump’s problem wasn’t a lack of experience, it was a “lack of ethics”.

And finally, would she consider Hillary Clinton for a position in her Department of Peace?

Williamson paused before concluding: “I don’t want to be drawn into this pile on of Hillary Clinton that should offend every American woman.”

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