As reported by ABC News, the Tulsi Gabbard Trump meeting that took place Monday between Gabbard, Donald Trump, and Trump's transition team came as a surprise to many. Not only is Tulsi Gabbard one of Hawaii's Democratic representatives in the United States Congress, but she has also been closely allied with Senator Bernie Sanders – who is hardly a fan of Donald Trump. The implications of this meeting are manifold – as well as disturbing to some Democrats.According to CNN, Gabbard is apparently being considered for a number of still open positions in the incoming Trump administration, including jobs at the Defense Department and the United Nations. While unlikely to be chosen as Secretary of Defense or United States representative to the United Nations, it's conceivable that some lower-level position – such as Assistant Secretary of Defense – might be possible.
Trump Choosing Tulsi GabbardTrump might have many reasons for considering Tulsi Gabbard as a member of his administration. For example, given that some of Trump's choices – such as Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News or Jeff Sessions of Alabama – are viewed by some as so far to the right they virtually fall off the edge, having a Democrat on board might make the Trump administration appear less extreme. On the other hand, Gabbard's positions are not entirely those of a typical Democrat. As noted by VoteSmart, her opinions on issues like the Keystone pipeline, gun control, and lowering taxes more closely resemble those of Republicans than the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Of course, in many other areas, such as her pro-choice stance and her support for regulation of greenhouse gases, Gabbard largely toes the party line.
Bernie Sanders and Tulsi GabbardTrump populism bears very little resemblance to that of the populist movement supporting Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, Sanders has a long association with Tulsi Gabbard. In fact, she fully endorsed him during the Democratic primaries. Gabbard only announced she would actually vote for Hillary Clinton once the Democratic National Convention was over.
But the fact that Tulsi Gabbard can so easily shift from supporting a man who describes himself as a democratic socialist to working with a billionaire who wants to slash regulations and taxes on the wealthy strikes some as peculiar. Perhaps the fact that Bernie Sanders himself also suggested he would attempt to work with Trump on any issues they agreed on facilitated the Tulsi Gabbard Trump get-together.
A House of Representatives press release issued by Gabbard supports this view. Gabbard, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and began representing Hawaii in the House of Representatives in 2013, might well have been Bernie Sanders' running mate if he had won the Democratic Party's presidential nomination instead of Hillary Clinton. Her military background and largely pro-gun stance would have been popular with some voters.
Selection Odds for Tulsi GabbardTrump, over the last several months, has made a habit of dangling positions in his campaign – and then in his administration – in front of people he's supposedly considering, only to pull it back at the last moment. No one knows this better than Chris Christie, who at one time was leading the pack as Trump's vice presidential nominee – which in the end went to Mike Pence.
Christie not only didn't get the vice president nomination, but he's been almost completely pushed out of the Donald Trump transition team. In a similar way, it's quite possible that the Tulsi Gabbard Trump meeting was entirely for the press and won't amount to anything in the end other than a photo op. And for Gabbard's future in the Democratic Party, this might actually be a good thing. It's hard to see a lot of Democratic support coming her way after serving in a Trump administration.
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