Failed 2016 presidential contender Hillary Clinton may have gone silent on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the 2020 Democratic presidential contender whom Clinton suggested was a Russian plant designed to upend the upcoming election. Tulsi Gabbard, however, hasn’t forgetten their feud.
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published Wednesday, Gabbard says she is running for president in order to “undo Mrs. Clinton’s failed legacy,” citing her 2016 endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) against Clinton in the Democratic primary as proof she and Clinton have been in conflict for years.
Gabbard says that, in the years since Clinton’s last presidential run, she’s all but forgotten about Donald Trump’s chief rival but it’s now clear Clinton hasn’t forgotten about her.
“The smears have been nonstop ever since ,” Gabbard writes.
Clinton, of course, recently suggested on a podcast that Gabbard is a Russian asset, being groomed to launch a third party challenge, kneecapping Democrats against President Donald Trump.
“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 said, before acknowledging that she meant Gabbard.
That set off a war of words between the two female legislators, with Gabbard replying on Twitter that Clinton is the “queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
Clinton eventually tried a bit of crisis communications — or, at least, her friends in the mainstream media did. The Washington Post published a “fact check” claiming that Gabbard had “misquoted” Clinton and that Clinton was referencing a Republican — not a Russian — effort to upend the presidential election. It was too little too late. Gabbard had already turned Clinton’s offhand comments into the foundation of a national campaign.
On Wednesday, Gabbard tried to keep the momentum going, hitting Clinton again.
“Whether Mrs. Clinton’s name is on the ballot or not, her foreign policy will be,” Gabbard wrote, adding that she’s battling a dozen other candidates who “adhere to her doctrine of acting as the world’s police, using the tools of war to overthrow governments we don’t like, wasting taxpayer dollars, costing American lives, causing suffering and destruction abroad, and undermining America’s security.”
Hillary Clinton has been silent in response, but her allies have not. Instead of hitting at Gabbard directly, Clinton associates have been conducting something of a whisper campaign, fomenting a concern among Democrats that Gabbard really is marshaling her troops for a third party bid — or at least a Democratic convention coup.
“She has absolutely zero path to becoming the Democratic nominee, so what is she doing?” Adam Parkhomenko, a former Clinton campaign aide told The Hill in response to Gabbard announcing that she does not plan to seek re-election in order to focus on her presidential campaign. “To say that she’s going to take her campaign all the way to the convention just suggests that she’s trying to create chaos.”
That may not be entirely true. At the moment, there is no official Democratic frontrunner. Former Vice President Joe Biden has fallen behind in polls, both in early primary states and nationally. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is likely to be shut out of the nomination process altogether to preserve electability, and while Sen. Elizbeth Warren (D-MA) has surged in recent weeks, cracks in her pristine exterior have emerged. Democrats are increasingly concerned about her lack of fundraising power and her inability to articulate a cogent plan to implement her ambitious, spendy platform.
That leaves the field wide open for the ascent of a current also-ran, and Gabbard just surpassed Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) in the polls.