When Hillary Clinton hinted in a podcast that Tulsi Gabbard was a favorite of the Russians, Gabbard — a military veteran — did not take the accusation lightly. Having already called out The New York Times and CNN during their own debate for “smears” against her, she quickly called out Clinton on Twitter, writing that Clinton was a “warmonger.” On Friday, October 18, “Tulsi” and “Tulsi is a Russian asset” trended. On Saturday, October 19, “I Am Tulsi” briefly hit the top nationally for Twitter trends, as everyone chimed in with their thoughts and opinions. Clinton’s spokesman says that she was talking about Republicans, not Russians, grooming Gabbard, but she did say at one point that a certain Democratic candidate was a Russian favorite. Here’s a look at the timeline of what happened that started it all and what’s happening now.
Clinton Said a Democratic Candidate was a ‘Favorite’ of the Russians & Her Spokesman Hinted that She Was Indeed Talking About Gabbard
Everything started when Hillary Clinton hinted about Tulsi Gabbard during a podcast with Barack Obama’s former adviser, David Plouffe, CNN reported. She never came out and said Gabbard’s name, but she did say: “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.”
She was talking about the Republicans having their eye on someone to be a third-party candidate, but also speaking about how someone was indeed a Russian “favorite.”
Later, “Tulsi Is a Russian Asset” trended on Twitter. Many people on Twitter have been particularly harsh about Gabbard ever since she and Kamala Harris were at odds during an earlier Democratic debate.
Clinton’s spokesman, Nick Merrill, responded when asked if Clinton was talking about Gabbard: “If the nesting doll fits,” CNN reported.
It should be noted that there is no evidence that Gabbard is working for Russia. The main points brought up by others often center around people who have endorsed. Gabbard herself disavowed David Duke’s endorsement.
Some also point to the Russia rumor based on Gabbard’s international policy platforms and some of her anti-war stances. But there is no evidence that Gabbard is working with Russia in any way.
If you want to hear Clinton’s comments for yourself, the podcast is available at this link. Her comments come in around the 36-minute mark. She was answering questions about social media and the interviewer said they believed Donald Trump won partially because of the third-party vote, and would this play out again in the 2020 election? The interviewer asked if Trump would have a strategy to convince people not to vote Democrat either but third party?
Clinton’s full quote is below:
I think it’s going to be the same as 2016. Don’t vote for the other guy, you don’t like me, don’t vote for the other guy…doing these horrible things. They’re also going to do third party and, I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody firmly in the Democratic party and they’re grooming her to be the third party candidate. She’s a favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset… She’s a Russian asset, totally, and so they know they can’t win without a third-party candidate.”
Tulsi Gabbard Hit Back, Calling Clinton a ‘Warmonger’
Not one to take attacks lightly, Tulsi Gabbard hit back, calling Clinton a “warmonger” in a scathing series of tweets that you can read below. Gabbard later retweeted her statements about Clinton.
Gabbard’s full statement reads:
Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose. It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”
Clinton’s spokesman Merrill later said that Gabbard’s “divisive language” and “conspiracy theories” were proof of Clinton’s statement.
Clinton’s Spokesman Later Said Clinton Was Talking about Republicans
After the accusations went viral, Merrill later backed off his “nesting doll” statement from earlier and said Clinton was talking about Republicans, CNN reported. Merrill said: “She doesn’t say the Russians are grooming anyone. It was a question about Republicans.”
Merrill also said: “She didn’t say she was a Russian plant either. Listen to the audio people!”
While it’s true that she was not saying Russians were grooming Gabbard, she did say that Gabbard was a “Russian favorite” in the same context in which she said Jill Stein was a Russian asset.
If you want to hear Clinton’s comments for yourself, the podcast is available at this link. Her comments come in around the 36-minute mark.
Clinton’s full quote is below:
I think it’s going to be the same as 2016. Don’t vote for the other guy, you don’t like me, don’t vote for the other guy…doing these horrible things. They’re also going to do third party and, I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve (Republicans) got their eye on somebody firmly in the Democratic party and they’re grooming her to be the third party candidate. She’s a favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far, and that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset… She’s a Russian asset, totally, and so they know they can’t win without a third-party candidate.”
Gabbard, meanwhile, has made it clear that she has no intention of running as an independent or a third-party candidate.
Andrew Yang Tweeted Support for Gabbard, & Many Are Waiting To See if Other Democratic Candidates Weigh In
Andrew Yang, another candidate for President, tweeted his support for Tulsi Gabbard.
He wrote: “Tulsi Gabbard deserves much more respect and thanks than this. She literally just got back from serving our country abroad.”
Meanwhile, others are waiting to see if any other Democratic candidates weigh in. At this time, Bernie Sanders, whom Gabbard campaigned for during his 2016 campaign, hasn’t responded to the controversy. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and others haven’t weighed in yet either.
Marianna Williamson spoke out on Twitter too.
Williamson said: “The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient! The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire. Stay strong @TulsiGabbard. You deserve respect and you have mine.”
Nina Turner also supported Gabbard.
Turner wrote: “Good morning Sister @TulsiGabbard. I’m just catching up with the foolery that’s going on. I’m SMDH hard. Four words: Keep. Your. Head. Up!”
Beto O’Rourke later came out in support of Gabbard.
Cory Booker shared a GIF that could be interpreted in either direction. Interestingly, Hillary Clinton responded with a GIF of her laughing. The GIF is from her debate with President Donald Trump.
Everyone on Twitter Has an Opinion
Meanwhile, everyone on Twitter has an opinion, which helped get “I am Tulsi” trending on Saturday, October 19. Some people are staunchly against Gabbard.
But others are firmly in Gabbard’s camp.
Some even donated as a result of the whole thing.
And this tweet is a unique idea. It would be fascinating to see Hillary Clinton, Tulsi Gabbard, and Jill Stein on a stage together, while watching Bernie Sanders’ reactions.
Clinton Backed Out of a Conference Gabbard Would Be Attending, But a Source Said It Was Because of a Different Person on the Schedule
On Friday, Hillary Clinton backed out of speaking at an event where Tulsi Gabbard will also be speaking. The event is Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C., Slate reported. The program’s agenda still has a dinner and program with Tulsi Gabbard scheduled for Tuesday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. Her interviewer will be Kristen Bellstrom of Fortune.
Clinton had been scheduled to appear on a One-on-One interview on Tuesday, October 22 at 12:45 p.m. She was going to be interviewed by Ellen McGirt and Clifton Leaf of Fortune, according to a cache of the program.
Clinton said she canceled her appearance because of a scheduling conflict. An unnamed source close to Clinton told Slate that she canceled after hearing that Kirstjen Nielsen was scheduled to speak too. Nielsen is the former secretary of Homeland Security. The source said: “We work with a lot of activists who are trying to do their best to improve this horrible situation down at the border. At the end of the day, it’s an easy decision. You have to side with them.”