Outspoken Bernie Sanders surrogate and U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) met with President-elect Donald Trump in his office at Trump Tower in New York City on Monday morning, according to a report from The Washington Post‘s Elise Viebeck.
“Trump’s transition team has said he is meeting with candidates for administration positions as well as people who can provide ideas and counsel,” Viebeck notes.
The meeting was Trump’s first of the week, and the timing of it is causing considerable speculation that he might be considering the “rebel” Democrat, who has considerable crossover appeal, for a cabinet position.
The Washington Times covered the story under the headline “Trump eyeing Democrat Rebel Tulsi Gabbard for administration.” ABC News followed suit with a story headlined “Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard ‘Under Serious Consideration’ for Trump Cabinet.”
ABC attributed the suggestion that Gabbard was “under serious consideration” to a “senior official on the transition team.”
The source added that Trump and Gabbard had a “terrific meeting” and that the President-elect’s team is very impressed with her, according to ABC.
“Ms. Gabbard, an Army veteran who serves on the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, is believed to be under consideration for a post at the Defense Department, State Department or the United Nations,” S. A. Miller wrote in the Times piece, adding that Gabbard sat “across the interview desk from Mr. Trump as he puts together his administration.”
Miller did not provide a source for saying that Gabbard was under consideration for a post or for suggesting that the meeting was an interview.
However, he did suggest that other Democrats may possibly fill roles in Trump’s administration as well.
“The president-elect met Sunday with former D.C. public schools chief Michelle Rhee, a Democrat who is in the running for education secretary,” Miller noted.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 21, 2016
Tulsi Gabbard may not seem like the most likely fit for joining the Trump administration, which is expected by all accounts to be exceptionally conservative in many regards.
Gabbard represents Hawaii, one of the most liberal states in the union. She is widely popular among the left wing of the Democrat Party, members of the Green Party, and progressive independents because of her outspoken support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during his presidential bid and a generally progressive voting record.
OnTheIssues.org’s record of Gabbard’s votes during her time in the House of Representatives shows that she supports raising the minimum wage, tax incentives for clean energy development, same-sex marriage, additional protections for victims of domestic violence, protecting Social Security and Medicare, regulating greenhouse gas emissions, ending military operations in Afghanistan, automatic voter registration, and a host of other issues that many progressives hold dear.
She gained extra points among her supporters by butting heads with former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz over what Gabbard saw as unfair treatment of Sanders by the committee during the Democratic primary.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 21, 2016
However, Gabbard’s not without her critics on the left. Some have described her as “hawkish.”
The accusations of hawkishness seem to stem almost solely from her criticism of President Barack Obama for his refusal to invoke the term “Islamic extremism” and his reluctance to target Al-Qaeda and the Al-Nusra Front in Syria, based on what can be gleaned from Washington Post article on the subject.
These views have made her popular among Republican critics of Obama’s foreign policy, as a separate Washington Post article explains.
But to call her hawkish for these reasons alone is simplistic. As mentioned above, she believes the U.S. should end military operations in Afghanistan. That’s not a particularly hawkish stance.
And in a statement released after her meeting with Trump, it appears that Gabbard met the president-elect for particularly anti-hawkish reasons.
“I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the president-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government — a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families,” Gabbard said in the statement, according to ABC. “I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives.”
That’s not hawk talk, not by any stretch.
There’s no word yet on the upshot of the meeting between Tulsi Gabbard and Donald Trump. If she is appointed to an administration position, it’s bound to cause some head scratching on both sides of the political spectrum.
[Featured image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]