During the fifth round of Democratic presidential debates, the moderators pitted Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Sen. Kamala Harris of California against each other over foreign policy issues.
Harris attempted to attack Gabbard by saying Gabbard spent all her time before running for president trying to buddy up with Republicans:
I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, who during the Obama administration spent four years full time on Fox News criticizing President Obama. Who has spent full time criticizing people on this stage as affiliated with the Democratic Party. When Donald Trump was elected, not even sworn in, buddied up to Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Donald Trump in the Trump Tower. Fails to call a war criminal by what he is, as a war criminal. And then spends full time during the course of this campaign, again, criticizing the Democratic Party.
“What Sen. Harris is doing is unfortunately continuing to traffic in lies and smears and innuendos,” Gabbard replied. “She cannot challenge the substance of the argument that I’m making.”
The premise of Harris’ argument against Gabbard is that working with a conservative-affiliated person or news outlet disqualifies her from serious consideration in Democratic Party politics. By setting her argument up in such a way, she not only proves Gabbard’s point that Harris is fearful of a substantive debate, but also reveals Harris’ divisive nature as a candidate.
“We need someone on [the debate] stage that can go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump and someone who has the ability to rebuild the Obama coalition and bring the party and the nation together. I believe I am that candidate,” Harris said.
However, she made that statement only seconds after attacking Gabbard for putting people above partisan politics. Obama built a coalition of independents because he ran as a candidate who could unite the nation, but Harris cannot say the same about herself — especially after attacking a candidate for working across party lines.
Harris’ fight was much more about punching back at Gabbard for the Hawaii congresswoman’s attack on Harris’ abusive prosecutorial record. Harris’ attack on Gabbard fell as flat as the California senator’s presidential campaign seems to be.