Could it be her military record? Her command of the camera? Her outsider status? Whatever it is, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has captured viewers’ attention not once, but twice, following the presidential debates.
According to USA Today, the congresswoman from Hawaii once again became the most searched candidate on Google following the Democratic Party presidential debates concluded on Wednesday night. During the second night’s debate, Gabbard scored a major blow against Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for her prosecutorial record.
“Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was the most searched candidate on Google after her night on the Democratic debate stage in Miami last month, and she took that honor again after the primary debate in Detroit on Wednesday,” reports the outlet.
While the Google trends prior to the debate were in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden and Harris, Gabbard stole the thunder from both of them once the debate kicked off.
Gabbard’s campaign quickly capitalized on the momentum, tweeting out, “Following the last two debates, Tulsi has spiked to #1 in Google Trends, showing America is hungry for her message of ending wasteful wars and the nuclear arms race. Join us to ensure she makes the donation requirement for the September debate.”
The big moment for Gabbard on Wednesday night, of course, came when she blasted Harris for allegedly being a corrupt prosecutor — even accusing her of withholding evidence that would have exonerated a man on death row. During the debate, Gabbard said:
I want to bring the conversation back to the broken criminal justice system that is disproportionately negatively impacting black and brown people all across this country today. Now Senator Harris says she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president.
But I’m deeply concerned about this record. There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.
She blocked evidence — she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.
Harris said she was “proud” of her prosecutorial record and cited the many tough choices she had to make in the face of crime victims and their families.
“I am proud of making a decision to not just give fancy speeches or be in a legislative body and give speeches on the floor, but actually doing the work of being in the position to use the power that I had to reform a system that is badly in need of reform,” said Harris. “That is why we created initiatives that were about reentering former offenders and getting them counseling.”
According to The Sacramento Bee, Gabbard’s criticism of Harris does carry some merit — though the innocence of the suspect referenced has not been fully determined.
“In February, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered new DNA testing in the 1983 murder case of Kevin Cooper. Cooper came within hours of execution in 2004 after being charged with the murders of an adult couple and two children. Harris opposed the testing when she was the state’s attorney general,” reports the outlet.
“She has since said she supports DNA testing and encouraged Newsom to approve Cooper’s request. She did not offer specifics on why she did not approve the testing during her tenure,” the report continued. “In response to a request for comment, Harris’s campaign pointed to a past statement where the senator called a New York Times columnist last year, telling him, ‘I feel awful about this.’ The testing is not yet complete. Whether Gabbard’s claim that the testing ‘would’ have exonerated him remains an open question.”