Tough Night for Tulsi Gabbard after Fights with Buttigieg, Harris - Rolling Stone
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Tough Night for Tulsi Gabbard

The Hawaii congresswoman tangled with Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg — and took plenty of criticism both times

Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi GabbardPresidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Charles Krupa/AP/Shutterstock

For all the expectations that Democrats had been sharpening their knives ready to carve up an ascendant Mayor Pete at the debate in Atlanta on Wednesday night, it was Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, floundering at two percent nationally, who ended up on the menu for her fellow Democrats.

“I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on this stage who is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States who, during the Obama administration, spent four years full time on Fox News criticizing President Obama,” Sen. Kamala Harris said. “When Donald Trump was elected, not even sworn in, [she] buddied up to Steve Bannon to get a meeting with Trump in the Trump Tower, fails to call a war criminal by what he is — a war criminal — and then spends full time during the course of this campaign again criticizing the Democratic Party.”

Gabbard called the characterization “ridiculous,” but it didn’t help her case that the Trump War Room immediately tweeted out her remarks.

Gabbard ended up tangling with Buttigieg over his comments. Here’s that exchange:

Gabbard: Pete, you’ll agree that the service we’ve both provided to this country as veterans by itself does not qualify us to serve as commander in chief. I think the most recent example of your inexperience in national security and foreign policy came from your careless statement about how you as president would be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels…. 

Buttigieg: I’ve got to respond to that: I know that it’s par for the course in Washington to take remarks out of context, but that is outlandish even by the standards of today’s politics.

Gabbard: Are you saying that you didn’t say that?

Buttigieg: I was talking about U.S.-Mexico security cooperation. We’ve been doing security cooperation with Mexico for years. Law-enforcement cooperation and a military relationship that could continue to be developed with training relationships, for example. Do you seriously think that anyone on this stage is proposing invading Mexico?

Gabbard: That’s not what I said. 

Buttigieg: I’m talking about building up alliances. 

Gabbard: That’s not what I said. 

Buttigieg: And if your question is about experience, let’s also talk about judgement. One of the foreign leaders you mentioned meeting was Bashar al Assad. I have in my experience, such as it, whether you think it counts as not since it wasn’t accumulated in Washington, that I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like that. 

Gabbard: You were asked directly if you would send out troops to Mexico to fight cartels and your answer was yes, the fact-checkers can check this out. But your point about judgement is absolutely correct, our commander in chief does need to have good judgement and what you’ve just pointed out is you would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends to ensure the peace and national security of our nation. I take the example of those leaders who came before us, leaders like JFK who met with Khrushchev, like Roosevelt who met with Stalin…

Buttigieg: Like Donald Trump who met with Kim!

For what it’s worth, Buttigieg when asked directly, “Do you see a time when troops can go into Mexico, if Mexico welcomed it, for instance?” replied, “There is a scenario where we could have security cooperation — as we do with countries around the world.”


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