Is she considering a third-party presidential challenge, hoping for vice presidential consideration, or will she crash the Democratic National Convention?
Hillary Clinton’s podcast comments last week suggesting Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a “Russian asset” being “groomed” as a third party candidate seems to have amped up the Hawaii congresswoman’s competitive nature.
After leveling Clinton in a blistering response, Gabbard has been like a one-woman wrecking crew on the campaign trail. She’s continued to call out Clinton, slammed the DNC for what she calls their effort “to kind of hold a pre-primary election before” voters in early primary states get a chance to vote, and met with potential high dollar donors on the Wall Street circuit Wednesday, where she reportedly received what Fox Business called “a hero’s welcome.”
Gabbard also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week that she shares Republican concerns about the secretive nature of the impeachment inquiry process House Democratic leaders are conducting behind closed doors:
“I don’t know what’s going on in those closed doors,” Gabbard said. “We as members of Congress do not have access to the information that’s being shared. I think the American people deserve to know exactly what the facts are, what the evidence is being presented as this inquiry goes on.”
She also expressed concerns that a hyper-partisan impeachment inquiry would “tear apart” the country. “I’ve long expressed my concern about going through impeachment proceedings in a very, very partisan way because it will only further tear apart an already divided country.”
Gabbard initially opposed the inquiry but changed her mind in late September, saying that after reviewing additional information and hearing comments President Trump made to the press about the July phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky she believed it was warranted.
But on Thursday, Gabbard really surprised political observers by announcing she would not run for reelection to Congress, saying she believed she could best serve the people of Hawaii from the White House as president:
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii doubled down on her long-shot presidential campaign, announcing she wouldn’t also run for reelection in her congressional district where a state senator is mounting a spirited push to take her seat.
The 38-year-old Democrat said the threats of war, international tensions and the threats of a new cold war convinced her she should focus on the presidential race.
“I believe I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as your president and commander-in-chief,” she said in in a video recording released online early Friday on the East Coast and late Thursday in the islands.
Watch the video of her announcement below:
Today I’m officially announcing that I will not be seeking reelection to Congress in 2020. Throughout my life, I’ve always made my decisions based on where I felt I could do the most good. In light of the challenges we face, I believe I can … pic.twitter.com/F0StYoA66n
— Tulsi Gabbard ? (@TulsiGabbard) October 25, 2019
Naturally, Gabbard’s announcement has fueled speculation as to what she plans to do politically going forward, especially with regards to her presidential campaign.
CNN’s Chris Cillizza echoed what was reported by many national news outlets. “The obvious answer is a third-party presidential bid” he suggested, considering she’s a long-shot for the Democratic nomination anyway.
He also said another possibility is that Gabbard is “angling for a long-term spot on Fox News once she leaves Congress” apparently because that’s what any serious candidate for the highest office in the land would do if they had no real chance to win their party’s nomination.
While it’s possible Gabbard could be preparing for an independent run (in spite of saying in August she wouldn’t) or perhaps wants to join Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris in the vice presidential sweepstakes, I believe the more likely scenario will be a crashing of sorts of the Democratic National Convention, considering what she told reporters last weekend in Iowa (bolded emphasis added):
[Gabbard] said she’s “continuing to use every platform possible to reach voters directly” when asked about her path to the nomination, and wouldn’t predict how she’d finish in Iowa. But she suggested that might not matter — even if she doesn’t have enough delegates to win, “we’re taking this all the way to the nomination.”
Now that would make the DNC worth watching.
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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