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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

After claim of Russian influence, Tulsi Gabbard lashes back at Hillary Clinton

Gabbard challenged Clinton to join the race Friday and slammed her as the “queen of warmongers and embodiment of corruption” after the latter alleged, without evidence, the congresswoman is a “favorite of the Russians” and that the Russians are grooming her to run as a third-party candidate, .

india Updated: Oct 19, 2019 13:44 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and 2020 presidential candidate.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii and 2020 presidential candidate. (Bloomberg)
         

Tulsi Gabbard, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has found someone she really wants to run against: Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee.

Gabbard challenged Clinton to join the race Friday and slammed her as the “queen of warmongers and embodiment of corruption” after the latter alleged, without evidence, the congresswoman is a “favorite of the Russians” and that the Russians are grooming her to run as a third-party candidate, .

Gabbard, a fourth-term member of the US House of Representatives from Hawaii, also accused Clinton of running a “concerted campaign to destroy my reputation”.

And she wrote in a post: “It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

Later in the day, Gabbard’s campaign sent out an email to supporters seeking donations citing Clinton’s allegations.

The congresswoman, who is the first Hindu to run for the White House and is widely seen as a close friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is struggling to stay in the race having never cleared 3% support in any poll so far and had failed to qualify for the third Democratic debate.

It was not immediately clear what triggered Clinton’s outburst, but something did. “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and they’re grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” she said in a podcast interview to David Plouffe, who had run President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far and that’s assuming Jill Stein (the Green Party president) will give it up because she’s also a Russian asset.”

Clinton did not name Gabbard but the reference was clear enough at least to Gabbard, who responded with a string of stinging tweets.

“Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …

“... concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and …

“... powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.”

Clinton and the Democratic party still feel aggrieved about Russian interference in the 2016 elections to defeat her and help her Republican rival Donald Trump, which was first ascertained by the US intelligence community in 2016 and was affirmed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations in 2019.

US authorities have warned that Russia is at it again for 2020.

Gabbard’s campaign has attracted attention for frequent mentions on RT, a Russian TV channel with links to the Kremlin and the support she appears to be getting on some right-wing social media sites — she is called “Mommy” on one platform, according to a recent report by the New York Times.

Gabbard has been troubled by these reports and lashed out at the last Democratic presidential debate at its joint hosts CNN and the New York Times.

Gabbard also took a swipe Clinton at the debate when she said in response to a question she stands for all Americans and that she does not consider any of them “deplorable”, a word Clinton ad used in the 2016 campaign for Trump supporters, which the Trump campaign had weaponized into as a badge of honor.

Clinton and Gabbard have a history. The Hawaii congresswoman was a rising star in the Democratic party and was elevated by the Clinton-aligned establishment to a senior position in the Democratic party, which she gave up in the run-u to the 2016 election to endorse Clinton’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders.

Gabbard has also courted controversy with her isolationist approach to foreign policy, which was on full display at the last presidential debate where she argued America’s regime-change policy towards Syria was more troublesome than Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of US troops from there, green-lighting Turkish invasion of areas held by Syrian Kurds, who fought with the US against the Islamic State.

Gabbard’s sharp response to Clinton drew the attention of at least one of her challengers for the presidential nomination, Senator Cory Booker, who retweeted her with a meme showing he was speechless.