Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is suspending her presidential campaign, ending a long-shot effort that saw her feuding with 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and raising fears among Democrats that she would mount a third-party 2020 bid.
“I feel that the best way I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress, and to stand ready to serve in uniform should the Hawaii National Guard be activated,” she said in an email.
In a video announcement posted to Twitter on Thursday morning, Gabbard said she will support Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, “even though I may not agree with the vice president on every issue.”
“I’m confident that he will lead our country guided by the spirit of aloha, respect and compassion, and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart,” she said.
— Tulsi Gabbard ? (@TulsiGabbard) March 19, 2020
During her candidacy, Gabbard angered fellow Democrats by making frequent appearances on Fox News and voting “present” on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
She also joined with many conservatives in lashing out at Google for its apparent political bias.
Gabbard attracted a sizable following in New Hampshire, where she frequently campaigned ahead of the state’s February primary. Some past supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the state warmed to her campaign over time, and she espoused a similar outsider approach to Sanders’ 2016 run, which Gabbard supported.
She was also part of what once was a diverse Democratic field. The 38-year-old American Samoan’s campaign website described her as “the first Hindu to run for president and first practicing Hindu in Congress.” And as one of the youngest candidates in the field and a military veteran, Gabbard outlasted senators and governors who came into the large Democratic primary race with higher profiles.
In October, she announced she wouldn’t be seeking re-election to her congressional seat, instead focusing on her presidential bid.
Gabbard’s decision became public shortly after a public feud with Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. In a podcast interview, Clinton appeared to call her “the favorite of the Russians” and said she believed Republicans have “got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”
Gabbard responded by calling Clinton the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
In January, she filed a defamation lawsuit against Clinton, saying Clinton’s comments were based on either her own imagination or “extremely dubious conspiracy theories” that any reasonable person would know to be “inherently and objectively unreliable.”
Asked to comment on the lawsuit, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “That’s ridiculous.”
As most of her Democratic House colleagues voted to impeach Trump in December, Gabbard chose to vote present on the two articles of impeachment.
Former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for Gabbard to resign over the vote and said she wasn’t doing her job representing Hawaii.
“Look, I did not take the easy vote,” Gabbard said after returning to the campaign trail. “I took the vote that I felt was in the best interest of our country and standing in the center to be able to bring the country together, to be able to begin this reconciliation that I think is so necessary in this terribly divided moment in our country.”
Questions over whether Gabbard would mount a third-party run in November’s general election continued following her feud with Clinton.
Even as she was questioned for her present vote on the impeachment articles, Gabbard maintained that a third-party campaign was not something she was considering.
“Absolutely not,” Gabbard said in December 2019. “It’s not going to change. My decision won’t change, no matter how many times people say it, no matter how many times I get asked the question, it’s not changing. I’m running to be the Democratic nominee.”
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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