2020: Mazie Hirono Won’t Endorse Tulsi Gabbard, Not ‘Progressive’ Enough in Past

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, right, places a flower lei on candidate Tulsi Gabbard at the Japanese Cultural Center, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
AP Photo/Marco Garcia

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on Monday declined to endorse Rep. Tulsi Gabbard when asked if she would support the fellow Democrat Hawaii lawmaker’s 2020 presidential campaign. 

Pressed on whether she will support Gabbard’s bid, Hirono told MSNBC that she is “looking for someone who has a long record of supporting progressive goals.”

Hirono continued: “I certainly wish all of our candidates the best because it is going to be a long, hard race, and so I wish everyone well, but for myself in these times of what I would call not normal times, I want someone who has very much been on the page in terms of supporting equal opportunity, choice, all of the kinds of issues that I’ve been fighting for decades.”

Reacting to Hirono‘s answer, host Kasie Hunt said that it doesn’t appear the Hawaii senator believes Gabbard has a track record of supporting progressive causes.

“I wish her well, though, as I do all of the other candidates,” Hirono said with a chuckle.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who made history in 2012 as the first Hindu elected to Congress, announced Friday that she will run for the White House. In a taped interview with CNN’s Van Jones, she said her campaign will focus on climate change, health care, and criminal justice reform.

Gabbard raised eyebrows in the recent day for publicly criticizing Hirono and other Democrats for their questioning of a judicial nominee, accusing them of having “weaponized religion for their own selfish gain.”

“While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus,” Gabbard wrote in an opinion-editorial for The Hill. “If Buescher is “unqualified” because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the ‘liberal lion of the Senate’ Ted Kennedy would have been “unqualified” for the same reasons.”
In response, Hirono’s office issued a statement comparing the 2020 presidential candidate to right-wingers who were critical of the senator’s line of questions. “It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Gabbard based her misguided opinion on the far-right wing manipulation of these straightforward questions,” said Hirono spokesman Will Dempster.

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