Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a veiled shot at Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) on Friday, alleging the congresswoman was being groomed by Russia to be a third-party candidate in 2020.
The failed 2016 Democrat nominee, who has accused President Donald Trump of being Russia’s “puppet” in the past, made the remarks during an interview on David Plouffe’s Campaign HQ podcast, while discussing Russian interference. Clinton suggested during the exchange that Russian President Vladimir Putin was grooming a stalking horse candidate to ensure Trump would be reelected.
“I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said. “She’s the favorite of the Russians.”
Clinton also added she believed Jill Stein, the likely Green Party nominee for president, is a “Russian asset.”
"I'm not making any predictions but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She's the favorite of the Russians," Hillary Clinton to @davidplouffe https://t.co/DKH7BLTWs8
— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) October 18, 2019
Although Clinton did not mention the candidate by name, many on social media interpreted the statement to be an attack on Gabbard.
— Johnny Verhovek (@JTHVerhovek) October 18, 2019
Hillary Clinton doesn't just predict the Russians will support Tulsi Gabbard as a third-party candidate; she also calls Jill Stein "a Russian asset — I mean totally."
Full context: pic.twitter.com/a5wZeCKWsd
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) October 18, 2019
Even prior to announcing her presidential bid, Gabbard stood apart from the rest of the Democrat field for her willingness to challenge the party’s foreign policy status quo, especially when it comes to regime change.
Such independence has not, however, engendered praise for the congresswoman on the left. Instead, many have attempted to smear Gabbard as both an “extremist” and “apologist” for dictators, the latter resulting in her refusal to condemn Syria’s strongman Bashar al-Assad.
In particular, the New York Times ran a piece on the congresswoman earlier this week, painting her as a right wing extremist.
“Then there is 4chan, the notoriously toxic online message board, where some right-wing trolls and anti-Semites fawn over Ms. Gabbard, calling her ‘Mommy’ and praising her willingness to criticize Israel,” the Times wrote. “In April, the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, took credit for Ms. Gabbard’s qualification for the first two Democratic primary debates.”
Gabbard addressed such smears as “completely despicable” during the Democrat presidential primary debate on Tuesday in Ohio.