Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) criticized his former rival Hillary Clinton on Monday night over her claim that Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) was being groomed by the Russians as a third-party candidate in the 2020 election.
“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 tweeted.
His comment came in response to Clinton’s suggestion, made on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, that the Russians have “got their eye” on Gabbard “and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”
Other Democratic presidential candidates have had more muted reactions to Clinton’s allegation.
South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg refused to condemn Clinton during a Sunday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, insisting instead that he wanted to focus on “policy.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) refused to comment when asked about the controversy in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday.
After responding to the former secretary of state on Twitter Friday, Gabbard went on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to further voice her thoughts on Clinton’s attack.
“I stand against everything that she represents, and that if I’m elected president, if I’m the Democratic nominee and elected president, that she won’t be able to control me,” Gabbard told Carlson. “She won’t be able to manipulate me, she won’t be able to continue to work from behind the curtain, to continue these regime change wars that have been so costly.”
Gabbard has long been an ally of Sanders, including in 2016 when she renounced her DNC vice chairwomanship to endorse Sanders over Clinton. Gabbard also has a close relationship with Nina Turner, co-chair of the Sanders campaign, with whom she has campaigned in the past. Turner tweeted Saturday morning in support of Gabbard.
Good morning Sister @TulsiGabbard. I’m just catching up with the foolery that’s going on. I’m SMDH hard. Four words: Keep. Your. Head. Up!👊🏾❤️
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) October 19, 2019
Editor’s Note: Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill states that Clinton’s “grooming” comment was in reference to the GOP, not the Russians.