A growing number of Democrats are defending Rep. Tulsi Gabbard after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested the Russians are grooming the Hawaiian Democrat for a third-party run.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas is among a handful of presidential hopefuls dismissing Clinton’s accusations. Businessman-turned-presidential-candidate Andrew Yang joined O’Rourke, arguing that any such accusation is a smear against a military veteran.
“Tulsi is not being groomed by anyone. She is her own person,” O’Rourke told reporters in an Oct. 19 interview. “Obviously has served this country, continues to serve this country in uniform, in Congress, as a candidate for presidency so I think those facts speak for themselves.”
O’Rourke’s comments came after Clinton told former Obama adviser David Plouffe in an Oct. 18 interview that the Russians “have got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be a the third-party candidate.” Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name.
Yang echoed O’Rourke’s response. (RELATED: ‘She Is Her Own Person’: Beto O’Rourke Defends Tulsi Gabbard Against Claims She’s A ‘Russian Asset’)
“She literally just got back from serving our country abroad,” he noted in an Oct. 18 tweet. Gabbard is an Army National Guard major who served in Iraq. She “deserves much more respect and thanks than this,” Yang added. Other candidates made similar observations.
“The Democratic establishment has got to stop smearing women it finds inconvenient!” Marianne Williamson, a self-help guru and presidential candidate, said in an Oct. 19 tweet. “The character assassination of women who don’t toe the party line will backfire.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney also weighed in. “I consider Tulsi to be a very good friend. As best I can tell, there’s absolutely no basis for any of those allegations,” Delaney told the Hill Monday.
Sanders went a step further.
“Tulsi Gabbard has put her life on the line to defend this country. People can disagree on issues, but it is outrageous for anyone to suggest that Tulsi is a foreign asset,” Sanders said on Twitter Monday. The self-avowed socialist faced Clinton in the 2016 primary election.
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