Democratic Hawaii Sen. and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard avoided calling Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad a war criminal when she was asked directly by Fox News’ Bret Baier during an interview on Wednesday night.
Gabbard met with Assad in Syria back in 2015, and has faced criticism since, saying at the time she “felt that it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we can achieve peace.”
“I want to ask you a specific question,” Baier asked. “In 2017, you visited Syria and met with Bashar al-Assad. Recently, you were asked if he was a war criminal and you couldn’t really say. Can you say it tonight?”
“Look, like I said earlier, we have to be willing to meet with people who may be adversaries or potential adversaries or dictators or others in the pursuit of peace and security,” Gabbard responded. “What is more important than the question that you’re asking now is the focus on the cost of this regime change war on our country, the trillions that we’ve spent on waging a regime change war that undermined our national security [and] strengthening terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.”
“Al Qaeda being stronger today in Syria than ever before. But to speak of the death and destruction that has been caused,” she continued. “Let’s focus on the costs and consequences of these regime change wars and work for the interests of our country, work for the interests of the American people, to speak of the interest of the people in the country we’re waging the wars and stop. That’s why I’m running for president and that’s what I’ll do as president is end these regime change wars.” (RELATED: Tulsi Gabbard Chides Fellow Democrats For Anti-Catholic Bigotry)
She also refused to label Assad a war criminal during her town hall on CNN last month, despite the fact that United Nations war crime investigators determined back in September 2017 that, “government forces have used chemical weapons more than two dozen times during Syria’s civil war.”
Gabbard has continuously defended the meeting with Assad, saying that it’s important to meet with both “adversaries or potential adversaries, not just our friends, if we are serious about the pursuit of peace,” during a February appearance on MSNBC.