My money’s on Harris — again. Although, at this stage of Harris’s decline, Gabbard going after her a second time would basically amount to desecration of a corpse.
But Gabbard owes her for that snide, hubristic line after the second debate when Harris scoffed that she was a “top-tier candidate” whereas Gabbard was a one-percenter. Months later, Gabbard is still a one-percenter — but Harris is down below five percent in the RCP average. How does Tulsi suppress the urge to gloat at her collapse, which just so happened to begin after Gabbard’s own attack on Harris’s record as California AG at that same second debate?
No, seriously, though, if anyone’s getting nuked at this next debate, it may be Gabbard herself. Possibly via a first strike by Harris.
“She’s laid down some of the toughest attacks of all of the debates, first against [Rep. Tim] Ryan, later against Harris,” said Democratic strategist Mark Longabaugh, an adviser for Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, which Gabbard supported. “If I’m on the stage with her in this upcoming debate, I’d certainly want to be prepared to rebut or to deal with Tulsi Gabbard coming at me.”…
“As she proved with Kamala, she’s more than willing to say the thing other people are definitely not willing to say,” said Democratic strategist Julia Barnes, the national field director for Sanders’ 2016 campaign.
“You just have to balance that with the fact that the other half of the sh– she says is so completely off message for the party and the values that she espouses to represent,” Barnes continued, noting that Gabbard was one of the last House Democrats to support an impeachment inquiry against Trump. “Coming out against impeachment? Come on. Is she really going to stand up onstage and say that? I can only imagine that that is an invitation for 100 percent of the participants just to cut her off at the knees.”…
“I would watch for Tulsi to be one of the wild cards that blows up the debate,” a veteran Democratic presidential campaign strategist said. “If I were preparing for this debate with one of the other candidates, especially if I was Elizabeth Warren, I would be very wary of Tulsi Gabbard now being back on the stage.”
“She could even decide to put the whole Democratic presidential field on blast for politicizing the impeachment process,” Politico wonders, which would be a terrible idea for a left-wing candidate who was already waaaaay late in joining the rest of her party in calling for an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s Ukraine conduct. She reluctantly supports that inquiry now after complaining for weeks about how “divisive” impeachment would be, but that probably won’t quell lefty suspicions about her. They view her as too Trump-friendly, having once interviewed with the president about a job during the transition period after the last election and turning up sporadically on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show to commiserate about interventionism. For Gabbard to use her time onstage to scold Democrats about impeachment instead of Trump — even if it’s on “style” grounds related to politicization — would be freakishly tone-deaf in a Democratic primary at a moment when the party’s trying to convince voters that the president should be ousted.
Which is why I think Harris might go after her over it. It’s not just about repaying Gabbard for the attack at the second debate, although it’s partly about that. And it’s not just about demonstrating that Harris is a good debater after Gabbard got the best of her in that earlier exchange, although it’s partly about that too. It’s mainly about Harris trying to rebuild some buzz by hammering Trump on the trail every day, up to and including her weird crusade lately to get him banned from Twitter. If Harris wants to rebrand as the candidate who’ll take it to Trump the most aggressively in the general election, believing that that pitch will appeal to lefties in a visceral way, blasting Gabbard for being some sort of Trump shill is a succinct way to do it. I bet she will.
Meanwhile, there’s an obvious answer to the question of who Gabbard should attack if she’s looking to use what’s left of her campaign to advance her future in the party. That would be Joe Biden, a candidate whom she’s defended in the past from attacks by the likes of Harris. That’s never made sense: Gabbard is a leftist in the Bernie mold, not a centrist like Biden. And Gabbard, the hardcore isolationist, has plenty of policy ammo to use against Biden, starting with his early support for the Iraq war. Damaging Grandpa Joe at the debate would earn back some respect for her from the left who dislike her chumminess with Carlson, and it might make Elizabeth Warren view her as a valuable surrogate potentially, which could earn Gabbard a favor down the road from the likely nominee. There’s every reason for Gabbard to take Warren’s side against Biden at this point. Instead, it’s *Warren* whom she’s been critical of lately on foreign policy, notes Politico, with Gabbard recently saying of her, “I haven’t seen much come from her in the way of what kind of leadership and decision making that she would bring to that most important responsibility that the president has.”
That must be her honest opinion and she must be resolved to stating her honest opinion at all moments because there’s no strategic value to her saying that about the person who’s most likely to face Trump next fall.
Via RCP, here’s Harris recently reiterating her odd interest in Trump’s Twitter account. She has the better of the argument against Tapper here, that Twitter is within its rights to enforce its terms of service and that banning someone for condoning lawbreaking isn’t that slippery a slope, but it’s impossible to see how this pitch is the thing that’ll get her back in the race. Right, it proves that she’s willing to fight Trump on even the smallest battlefield, but all of the Democratic candidates hate Trump. (Except Gabbard, I guess.) Being the person who hates him just a teeny tiny bit more isn’t going to make her the nominee when Warren’s out there rolling out plans for a redistribution revolution.