Prominent Bernie Sanders surrogate Tulsi Gabbard has said she is not yet prepared to endorse presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. During an appearance on CNN’s “Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer, the news anchor asked the Hawaii Congresswoman if she still backed Sanders for president or if she would now be supporting Clinton. Gabbard said she had several reasons for hesitating to back Clinton, but her biggest reason was Clinton’s penchant for getting involved in unnecessary wars.
“I’m not prepared to do that. There are a number of issues that I am concerned about and I look forward to discussing with you again in the future. There are a lot of things I’m looking at. In particular, these issues that [Clinton] has not moved on at all in this campaign, which is this commitment to continue this interventionist regime change policy in Syria that is proving so disastrous.”
Gabbard’s criticism of Clinton’s foreign policy of regime change could also be applied to other countries the United States has involved itself in, namely Honduras. In 2009, a U.S.-backed coup d’êtat overthrew a democratically elected president and ushered in an era of incredible human rights violations, including the murder of leading Indigenous activist Berta Caceras.
Gabbard has been a stalwart supporter for Bernie Sanders, who has long been critical of the superdelegate system. Superdelegates are normally neutral until the Democratic Party conventions, however, this year more than 400 of them had voiced support for Clinton before she had even announced her candidacy. Sanders has consistently criticized this practice throughout his campaign, particularly on Twitter and during his stump speeches.
“We must get rid of superdelegates. The fact that we had 400 superdelegates pledged eight months before the first ballot was cast is absurd.”
Gabbard herself has followed Sanders’ lead and recently called for the Democratic Party to ban the use of superdelegates in the primary races. On June 11, she posted a petition on her Facebook page criticizing the practice of allowing unelected party officials and lobbyists have sway in who the Democratic nominee will be.
“Whether you area Bernie Sanders supporter or a Hillary Clinton supporter, we should all agree that unelected party officials and lobbyists should not have a say in who the presidential nominee of our party is. That should be left to the voters.”
Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran and is still a Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard. According to her official website, Gabbard served two tours of duty in the Middle East in the early 2000s, and again volunteered for deployment in 2009. Unlike Clinton, Gabbard has seen the effects of unnecessary wars as a member of a field medical unit.
She currently serves on several House committees and caucuses, including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, The House Committee on Armed Forces, Congressional Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, and the Congressional Veterans Jobs Caucus to name a few.
Gabbard’s experience in foreign wars and affairs make her a valuable voice of reason, and one which Clinton should listen to. However, Clinton does not seem inclined to listen to her or to change any of her existing platform ideals.
During the same interview, Blitzer also asked Gabbard if she had an opinion about Tim Canova’s efforts to unseat Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Gabbard said she is remaining neutral in that race.
“I have not made that endorsement. I haven’t met him yet.”
Gabbard’s reluctance to endorse Clinton until the former Secretary of State changes her stance on vital issues makes her a rebel of sorts. In February, she chose to step down from her position as a vice-chair so she could endorse and campaign with Bernie Sanders. She acknowledged to MSNBC’s Brian Williams in March that she had been strongly urged not to.
Since her endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Gabbard has gained wide acclaim as a rising star in the Democratic Party, although she is not without her detractors. This August she will face primary opponent Shay Chan Hodges, who believes the Iraq War veteran is not progressive enough to represent the 2nd District of Hawaii.
[Photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Images]