Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have come to defend fellow candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii after the party’s 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, charged that Gabbard was a Russian asset.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton speculated on a podcast about Russia’s involvement in the next election. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.”
The peddling of the conspiracy theory went viral, prompting a response from Gabbard and multiple other candidates in the race rebuking their party’s previous nominee.
“Tulsi Gabbard has put her life on the line to defense this country,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont tweeted Monday, who Gabbard endorsed over Clinton in 2016. “People can disagree on issues, but it is outrageous for anyone to suggest that Tulsi is a foreign asset.”
Tulsi Gabbard has put her life on the line to defend this country. People can disagree on issues, but it is outrageous for anyone to suggest that Tulsi is a foreign asset.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 21, 2019
“Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad,” tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang wrote.
“The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient!” self-help author Marianne Williamson tweeted. “The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine.”
The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient! The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard . You deserve respect and you have mine.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) October 19, 2019
“”Tulsi is not being groomed by anyone. She is her own person,” former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke said.
.@BetoORourke on @TulsiGabbard: "Tulsi is not being groomed by anyone. She is her own person. Obviously has served this country, continues to serve this country in uniform, in Congress, as a candidate for presidency so I think those facts speak for themselves." pic.twitter.com/dKnOVExx3H
— The Hill (@thehill) October 19, 2019
On Monday however, O’Rourke went on to engage in another insane conspiracy theory charging that President Donald Trump is acting as an agent of Russia.
“It really seems very obvious to me that he’s working in the best interest of that country against the best interest of this country,” O’Rourke said on CNN with Wolf Blitzer.
During her podcast interview where she labeled Gabbard an asset of the Russians, Clinton also asserted that Trump was working on behalf of the Russian government.
“I don’t know what Putin has on him, whether it’s both personal and financial,” Clinton remarked.
Of course, after more than two years of wall-to-wall coverage of the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians in 2016, a special counsel investigation with unlimited resources exonerated the president of the charges.
Trump came to Gabbard’s defense during an appearance on Fox News with Sean Hannity.
“I don’t know Tulsi Gabbard, but I know one thing: she’s not an asset of Russia,” Trump said.
Other 2020 Democrats appear to be buying into Clinton’s claims, if not simply avoiding the topic.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg repeatedly dodged questions on Gabbard being a Russian asset during an interview on CNN with Jake Tapper.
“I’d prefer to have the conversation be about policy, about what we’re going to do, and about how American lives are going to be different,” Buttigieg told Tapper when asked whether he believed Clinton’s claims to be true.
When asked again, Buttigieg did voice skepticism in the former First Lady’s accusations. “I don’t know what the basis is for that.”
The campaign of the race’s frontrunner of former Vice President Joe Biden declined to comment on the feud Monday, according to Fox News.
The allegations that Gabbard is being propped up as a Russian asset first took centerstage last week during the Democratic Party’s fourth primary debate hosted and moderated by the New York Times and CNN. Gabbard slammed the Times for publishing an article chronicling Russian media interest in the congresswoman that she said unfairly characterized her as a Russian asset.
Gabbard, who barely qualified for the debate has earned a plethora of press attention following the public spat with Clinton rejuvenating the congresswoman’s campaign. Whether the clash will be reflected in the polls remains to be seen, but the media attention is sure to boost Gabbard’s struggling campaign in one way or another as Gabbard has already begun fundraising on the issue.