Tulsi Gabbard calls Clinton comments ‘despicable’ in Iowa City

Tulsi Gabbard responded to Hillary Clinton’s comments suggesting Gabbard was a Russian asset.


Jenna Galligan

Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI, speaks to media outlets outside the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Jenna Galligan/The Daily Iowan)

Rylee Wilson, Politics Reporter

Speaking to members of the press from an Iowa City parking lot in a hastily scheduled press conference, 2020 hopeful Tulsi Gabbard responded to comments made by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accusing Gabbard of being “groomed” for a third-party run by the Republican Party and suggesting that Gabbard was a Russian asset.

In an interview with The DI, Gabbard called Clinton’s comments despicable. 

“The message that is being sent here is that myself or any American, or any service member that is calling for an end to our country’s long-held foreign policy of waging regime change wars … then we will be smeared and labeled as foreign agents and as traitors to our country,” Gabbard said.

In previous Iowa City stops, Gabbard has campaigned on regime-change wars, when the U.S intervenes in to change the leadership of foreign countries, one of her signature issues. 

Gabbard said that Clinton and her “proxies” have been attempting to smear her campaign from the beginning, and criticized Clinton’s foreign policies. 

“If I’m elected president [Clinton] won’t be able to manipulate me into regime-change wars, escalating these cold wars and arms races, things she has propagated and championed for so long,” Gabbard said. 

Gabbard did not elaborate on who specifically within the Democratic party she considered to be Clinton’s “proxies”. 

On an episode of the Campaign HQ podcast, Clinton said that Rupublicans “Got their eye on somebody who is currently running in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be a third-party candidate.”

While Clinton did not name Gabbard directly in her comments, it is widely assumed Clinton was speaking about Gabbard. 

“She is a favorite of the Russians,” Clinton added, still not naming whom she was talking about. “They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And, that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. Yeah, she’s a Russian asset. Totally. And so they know they can’t win without a third-party candidate. I don’t know who it’s going to be, but I will guarantee they’ll have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most need it.”

Gabbard affirmed that she is not considering a third-party run. 

“I am staying in the Democratic Party, and I’m fighting to take our Democratic Party back, out of the hands of Hillary Clinton and the warmongering establishment, and put it back into the hands of the people so our party can truly be a champion for the people,” Gabbard said. 

Gabbard said that the backlash over Clinton’s comments will not affect her strategy in Iowa. 

“I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing – reaching out directly to Iowa voters, sharing my unified message with them, sharing my unified message about how we must come together as Americans around the founding principles of our country,” Gabbard said. 

Gabbard was scheduled to appear in the UI homecoming parade Friday evening, but did not make it to the event in time. 

A recent Des Moines Register poll shows Gabbard polling at around 2% among Iowa voters. Gabbard appeared in the most recent debates on Oct. 15, but has yet to qualify for the November debates.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article wrote that Tulsi Gabbard spoke from the parking lot of the Emma Goldman Clinic in Iowa City. This article has been updated to reflect that the EGC has not made a political endorsement of a presidential candidate. The EGC closed at 3 p.m. on Homecoming Friday and clinic administrators had not made any prior arrangements with the candidate for a visit to the clinic or to hold a press conference at the clinic.