Tulsi Gabbard Faces The Repercussions For Challenging Hillary Clinton During Fifth Debate

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Amber Athey Podcast Columnist
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Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard faced the consequences for bucking her own party and attacking former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during Wednesday’s debate, receiving relatively little speaking time and few questions relative to her poll numbers.

Gabbard has risen in the polls since the start of the primary race, hitting 3 percent nationwide according to an Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday. She is also doing relatively well in key primary states, polling at 3 percent in New Hampshire and Iowa in recent polls from St. Anselm and the Des Moines Register, respectively.

Nonetheless, it took nearly thirty minutes for the debate moderators — Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Ashley Parker, and Kristen Welker — to address Gabbard during the debate, despite her polling better than some of her counterparts on stage. And their first question was about Gabbard’s attacks on Clinton, which were born out of Clinton’s insinuation last month that Gabbard was a favorite of the Russians and was potentially being groomed to run as a third party spoiler candidate. (RELATED: Tulsi Gabbard Responds To Hillary Clinton’s Russia Slight, Calls Her The ‘Queen Of Warmongers’)

“You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain,” Gabbard wrote in response to Clinton’s accusations.

“Congresswoman Gabbard, you have criticized Hillary Clinton as the, quote, personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party. What is the rot you see in the Democratic Party?” Parker asked Gabbard.

Gabbard responded:

“That our Democratic Party, unfortunately, is not the party that is of, by and for the people. It is a party that has been and continues to be influenced by the foreign policy establishment in Washington, represented by Hillary Clinton and others’ foreign policy, by the military industrial complex, and other greedy corporate interests. I’m running for president to be the Democratic nominee that rebuilds our Democratic Party, takes it out of their hands and truly puts it in the hands of the people of this country.”

The moderators then gave California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris a chance to “respond” to Gabbard’s response, despite the fact that she was not mentioned.

“I think that it’s unfortunate that we have someone on this stage that is attempting to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, who during the Obama Administration spent four years full time on Fox News, criticizing President Obama, who has been full time criticizing people on this stage as affiliated with the Democratic Party,” Harris bemoaned.


Gabbard, who has shown little concern for the repercussions she could face for attacking her own party, responded by accusing Harris of “continuing to traffic in lies and smears.”

“What Senator Harris is doing is unfortunately continuing to traffic in lies, and smears, and innuendos, because she cannot challenge the substance of the argument that I’m making, the leadership and the change that I’m seeking to bring in our foreign policy, which only makes me guess that she will as president continue the status quo, continue the Bush-Clinton-Trump foreign policy of regime change wars, which is deeply destructive,” Gabbard slammed.

This exchange was the only speaking time Gabbard received during the entire first hour of the two-hour debate.

The trend continued throughout the rest of the debate, as Gabbard was routinely left out of debates about the biggest topics, such as paid family leave. Despite one of her main campaign focuses being foreign policy, Gabbard was not allowed to speak about the issue with the rest of the field, instead having to address it after a commercial break when the momentum had passed.

By the time the debate was three quarters finished, Gabbard was just barely outpacing Andrew Yang on speaking time. Minnesota Democratic Sen. Klobuchar, who is polling below Gabbard nationally, received nearly double the amount of speaking time.

In lieu of actually receiving questions, Gabbard tried to create her own moments by going after her opponents. Gabbard closed out the debate with another attack on South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, accusing him of being too inexperienced to sit in the Oval Office and defending herself from allegations that she was wrong to sit down with “murderous dictator” Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Despite these moments being some of the most fiery in the debates, Gabbard still closed out the night with some of the least amount of speaking time.

The moderators freezing Gabbard out was even more significant given she was widely seen as a major contender after earlier debates, being lauded for her performance and considered the winner of those debates in polls on the Drudge Report.

However, the shunning of Gabbard during the fifth Democratic debate was nothing new for a candidate that has repeatedly bucked the establishment, whether it’s speaking out against the Clintons, appearing on Fox News or Joe Rogan’s podcast, refusing to endorse U.S. involvement in conflicts abroad and expressing respect for Trump supporters.

Much like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, Gabbard should expect more of the same from the establishment media and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as the primaries continue.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to accurately reflect that Tulsi Gabbard is a member of the House of Representatives.