In an interview with NBC News on Saturday, Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard was asked whether she would “disavow” the support of her campaign coming from Russian government-owned media outlets. The source also included the Russian embassy, the latter of which would appear to be a clear indication that the Russian government supports the Hawaii congressional rep’s run in the 2020 presidential election.
But, according to NBC reporter Maura Barrett, reporting via Twitter, Gabbard did not make a statement disavowing Russian support.
Instead, while making a general statement that “any foreign interference in our election is not a good thing,” Gabbard simply replied, “this is not about Russia.” Gabbard said she has been the victim of a “smear campaign.”
The controversy over Gabbard’s Russian support exploded on Friday when 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said during a political podcast that Russia was “grooming” one candidate in the 2020 field to run as a “third-party” candidate in next year’s general election, as The Inquisitr reported.
While Clinton did not name the candidate, Gabbard clearly assumed that Clinton was referring to her, responding with an angry series of tweets in which she denounced Clinton as “the queen of warmongers” and the “embodiment of corruption.”
The Russian embassy has tweeted in support of Gabbard as far back as August.
Bellingcat's @EliotHiggins is spam-attacking US Presidential candidate @TulsiGabbard for posing questions to the MSM-propelled narrative on the alleged #Douma incident. #ThoughtPolice & #ElectionMeddling irony aside, Ms Gabbard visited ????????#Syria herself, unlike certain bloggers... pic.twitter.com/Yn1N7KAajH— Russia in RSA ???????? (@EmbassyofRussia) August 5, 2019
Such Russian state-run media outlets as the RT and Sputnik sites appeared to take an immediate liking to Gabbard’s candidacy. In just the first three weeks after she officially declared her presidential run on January 11, an NBC News report counted 20 pro-Gabbard stories posted by RT, Sputnik, and a third pro-Kremlin-site, Russia Insider.
But Gabbard’s apparent reluctance to “disavow” the support from the Russian government and its media operations contrasted sharply with her earlier response to an “endorsement” from white supremacist, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Duke praised Gabbard as “the only Presidential candidate who doesn’t want to send White children off to die for Israel,” as quoted by The Inquisitr.
Gabbard bluntly stated that she did “reject his support,” and she “denounced” Duke for his “hateful views.”
In her interview with Barrett, however, rather than rejecting Russian support, Gabbard said simply, “I don’t control them,” and that she has been the target of a “smear campaign” because “I am calling for an end to our country’s longstanding regime change war policy.”
Gabbard singled out U.S. involevment in Syria as a “regime change war.” In fact, the Syrian civil war began in 2011 when pro-Democracy protesters in Syria took to the streets after the Syrian government detained and tortured 15 teenage boys and killing one for writing anti-government graffiti. As Al-Jazeera reported, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responded with troops who massacred the demonstrators and imprisoned many who were not killed.
The protests soon erupted into the full-fledged civil war that continues today. U.S. military operations in Syria began three years after the start of the war in 2014.