Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s bizarre week in American politics continued Thursday night, when she skipped an appearance at LULAC’s Latino town hall in Des Moines, appearing that evening instead on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. There, she criticized House Democrats’ impeachment process, a reversal of her recent stance on the matter.
Hours later, Gabbard would announce that she would not run for reelection to her Hawaii House seat, where she faces a serious primary challenge from a state senator.
[Update: Her campaign says she stayed in D.C. to attend Congressman Cumming’s funeral, which is today. The timing of the Fox News hit so soon to the town hall seemed odd to some who attended, but was not directly related.]
Gabbard was one of four Democrats scheduled to participate in LULAC’s nationally-televised town hall, oddly co-hosted by Newsmax, a conservative news outlet. Instead, she conducted a prerecorded interview that was played on the video monitors in the hall. That also kept her away from the press corp, which interviewed candidates afterward.
It was all a fitting nightcap to a peculiar week for the outsider candidate.
LULAC’s was the last of several Iowa events on her itinerary that got cancelled this past week as she dealt with significant national attention following Hillary Clinton’s comments that Gabbard was being groomed for a third-party run (initial reporting that Clinton meant Russians were doing it were incorrect; Clinton meant Republicans).
Gabbard scrapped several open-press events in Iowa this week, avoiding reporters to instead send out a series of incendiary social media posts and videos in which she blasted Clinton, who she called the “queen of warmongers.”
Though she has previously sworn off a third party run, there’s been some reporting and speculation that Gabbard may be reconsidering that. The decision to not run for reelection to Congress will only fuel that concern among Democrats. Even with this week’s newfound attention, Gabbard faces extremely long odds in winning the Democratic primary.
Shortly after her video played at the LULAC town hall, Gabbard appeared on Fox News. She reiterated that she supported an impeachment inquiry (she was one of the last Democrats to back it, only after additional information on Ukraine came out), but emphasized her caveats on it.
“I think that inquiry needs to be done in a very narrowly-focused way and it must be done transparently,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on in those closed-doors. We, as members of Congress, don’t have access to the information that is being shared. And I think the American people deserve to know exactly what the facts are.”
Gabbard also used the interview with Hannity to raise money for her campaign by criticizing Clinton to his viewers.
“I want to say that you and I, I’m sure, disagree on a lot of things, but I think that you and I agree on one very important point: and that is that the American people have had enough of Hillary Clinton and her war-mongering policies,” Gabbard said. “And so I want to send a message straight to your viewers here today: join me, support me, help me, vote for me, contribute to my campaign to finally bring about an end to Hillary Clinton’s war-mongering foreign policy and the influence she’s had for so long over the Democratic Party.”
Interestingly, Gabbard didn’t bring this situation up much on the campaign trail in Iowa this week. Her speech at the Linn County Democrats’ dinner on Sunday was her usual stump speech, one that focused on Hawaii values, peace and defeating Donald Trump’s division.
And during most of her events and in-person interviews, Gabbard rarely comes off in the same manner as she does on her social media feeds or in Fox News appearances. But that’s where most of the national debate is focused on the congresswoman, who is unlikely to disappear from the presidential race anytime soon regardless of her polling.
by Pat Rynard