Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is being “groomed” by Russians may have had the opposite effect of what the former First Lady intended: It has elevated a longshot Democratic presidential candidacy and inspired more ardent interest in the peace candidate.
Clinton did not mention the Hawaii congresswoman by name, and she produced no evidence that Moscow is backing the congresswoman, but she clearly maligned Gabbard in comments made on a podcast hosted by former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
On Saturday, Gabbard found fans among the many Clinton skeptics across Iowa, where the eventual 2016 Democratic presidential nominee barely won party caucuses against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“What is this horrible thing that Hillary said about you?” one person asked Gabbard at a house party in West Branch.
“Clinton’s accusation that Gabbard is a tool of the Russians was so blunt and clumsy that it has added new life to a primary bid that should never have existed in the first place,” wrote Atlantic columnist Tom Nichols. “Within a day, Gabbard was already fundraising off of it, a development as predictable as a sunrise.”
Gabbard referred to Clinton on Twitter as the “queen of the warmongers” in a rapid fire response on Twitter.
After Hillary Clinton accused presidential candidate Gabbard — a combat veteran, soldier and Major in the Army National Guard — of being “groomed” to be a “Russian asset”on David Plouffe’s podcast the Congresswoman responded forcefully on Twitter:
A campaign spokesperson elaborated saying, “When Tulsi said on that debate stage Tuesday night ‘when I look out at our country, I do not see deplorables, I see fellow Americans,’ she was talking about this.”
“She was standing up to a corrupt party elite that holds exactly this kind of contempt for We, the People,” the aide said. “The utter disdain for the truth — and refusal to face their own failures and hypocrisy — shown by establishment warmongers and their corporate media lackeys is not only insulting, it’s a threat to our democracy.”
For a somewhat obscure contender it seems there have been concerted efforts to undercut her candidacy, from media blackouts, to baseless smears about Gabbard’s religion and progressive record, to under-the-belt attacks on the Hawaii Congresswoman’s loyalty to the country she risked her life to serve.
In a broadside aimed at the New York Times, CNN, Neera Tanden and other establishment icons, the Gabbard spokesperson said, “Hillary Clinton and her establishment cronies have their knives out for Tulsi, using her as an example in their campaign to intimidate and silence those who dare to stand up for peace.”
Gabbard was elected to Congress in 2012 and she rose to national prominence when she endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2016.
As one of about 25 Democrats seeking the White House in 2020, Gabbard has received very little media coverage but critics have been given broad leeway for making similarly unfounded attacks.
Although she is among the most strident advocates for peace on the campaign trail, Gabbard also has solid military credentials.
““I enlisted in the Army National Guard after the terrorist attack on 9/11, served as a soldier for over 16 years and deployed twice to the Middle East. In Congress I have served for over six years on both the Foreign Affairs and the Armed Services Committee,” Gabbard said. “As president I will end these counterproductive and wasteful regime change wars, work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race and take the trillions of dollars that we’ve been spending, and invest those resources in serving the needs of the American people – health care, education, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, protecting our environment. There are many urgent needs here that we need to address and we’ve got to get our priorities straight.”
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