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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Resigns from the DNC; Backs Sanders for President


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Sunday on NBC “Meet the Press” Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) said, “I am resigning from the DNC so that I can support Bernie Sanders for president.”

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Partial transcript as follows:

TODD: We spent much of the show talking about how divided the GOP has become, but there are also some fractures within the Democratic race. And my next guest, Tulsi Gabbard, congresswoman from Hawaii, Democratic National Committee vice-chair has been at odds with her boss DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for months over the Democratic presidential debate schedule.Congresswoman, you’re here because you have an announcement to make regarding your position at the DNC. Tell us.

GABBARD: Well, first of all, I am resigning from the DNC so that I can support Bernie Sanders for president.I would like to tell you why. As a veteran and as a soldier I’ve seen firsthand the true cost of war. I served in a medical unit during my first deployment where every single day I saw firsthand the very high human cost of that war. I see it in my friends who now a decade after we’ve come home are still struggling to get out of a black hole.I think it’s most important for us as we look at our choices as to who our next commander-in-chief will be is to recognize the necessity to have a commander-in-chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, who looks beyond the consequences, who looks at the consequences of the actions that they are looking to take before they take those actions so that we don’t continue to find ourselves in these failures that have resulted in chaos in the Middle East and so much loss of life.

TODD: But you know, it was just a month ago — and this was sort of got us curious, a month ago you said you think the next commander- in-chief needs to have a, quote, military mindset. You said this during an interview on Fox News. Does Senator Sanders have a military mindset?

GABBARD: From what I’ve seen, from talking with him and from his record he does. And what that military mindset means is you go through an analysis process as you’re looking at potential courses of action that you’re going to take and how and when we use our military power. And just as importantly when we don’t use that military power that military mindset says you have foresight. You look at what are the results, what are the consequences of these actions, how will other actors in the area react to those actions, what will we then do. And you look continue down the line so you know exactly what you’re potentially getting yourself into before you make that decision that ends up costing us lives and treasure.

TODD: All right, I want to bring in the rest of the panel here. Heather, I’ll start with you. Let’s mix it up here, but just when it looks like the Democratic Party Hillary Clinton’s got to go on the ability to unite the party as she’s potentially building a commanding lead, this is a fracture.

MCGHEE: I think that the Democratic Party has always needed a primary. This is a time when our core issues around the social contract, around the future of our country, around climate change, around debt free college in the next generation are at the center of the debate.So we have to have a full debate about them. And I frankly think that it’s time for us to really have a message that actually integrates the party that talks about economic inequality and how racism has driven economic inequality.

TODD: So you think this primary, do you think it’s moved Hillary Clinton?

MCGHEE: Absolutely, the primary has moved Hillary Clinton. I think it’s sharpened Bernie Sanders and most importantly it’s educated millions of Americans about the plutocracy in this country and the real human cost of economic inequality and racism.

MITCHELL: I think having been out there that it is a very healthy debate and a more civilized debate, I should say.But being in South Carolina as much as I was, it’s striking and the results in the election last night prove and it could foreshadow what happens on Tuesday, that Bernie Sanders has yet to understand the language and the way to describe issues that really appeal to the African-American voters, at least in the south and certainly the older African-American voters. And he frames income inequality in terms of Citizens United and campaign finance reform and super PACs and Wall Street and what the older african-American women are eager to hear is more kitchen table issues. And it really strikes me going all the way back to January 17 when we had our debate in South Carolina, that’s when her closing argument was Flint, Michigan. Her entire closing statement was Flint, Michigan. And that was her first foray into appealing to these voters. And she seems to be connecting in a way and he is not.

TODD: Congresswoman, respond to this that Bernie Sanders hasn’t connected.

GABBARD: Well, I think when you have seen the groundswell of support that he’s gotten not only in one or two states but in states across the country, I think this is where there is a hunger for a leader, a commander-in-chief who is honest, who has integrity, who exercises good judgment.The communication of the contrast between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is something that has begun and I think needs to continue to grow to make sure that as we continue through the next Super Tuesday states that are voting and beyond that voters are equipped with the right information especially as it pertains to war and peace and how these decisions impact these communities of color, how they impact communities that are coming from a different place. COOK: I think whenever you see problems in one party, if you look, you’ll see them over in the other side. And on the Democratic side, the divisions that you see with the Republicans are there as well.And if you think about it Hillary Clinton was at the far left of her husband’s administration and now she finds herself scrambling like mad to keep up with the party that’s moved to her left.And so there are divisions in both sides. But, and if you think about sort of the near-term — the future of the Democratic Party, you get past Hillary Clinton or maybe Joe Biden and you got to go way, way, way left before you find anybody that’s on the national stage.

MCGHEE: I also wouldn’t characterize it as left and right the way we’ve been talking about for a long time, particularly when we’re talking about economic progressivism, this is something that’s really more about insider and outsider, about top and bottom on the economic spectrum.

TODD: That’s been the split there.

MITCHELL: And her vulnerability is she has yet to prove…

TODD: Erick, I am curious, though, if Hillary Clinton is on a march to the nomination, does that help your efforts to unify behind Cruz and Rubio?

ERICKSON: I think it would. And in a normal year it would. I don’t know that it will this year because there is so much anger. Talking about outsiders and insiders, there is so much anger now people are making decisions emotionally, they’re not looking.I for one, though, am very happy to be talking about the Democratic primary rather than…

TODD: Fair enough.But a pause there.Congresswoman, nice to see you. Thanks for coming by, making that news here.

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