After all, Gabbard enlisted right after 9/11, something no one else on tonight’s debate stage could say. She served two combat tours in Iraq, and continues to serve in the Army National Guard today. Gabbard even received the Meritorious Service Medal for her service.

But critics frequently paint Gabbard as a Russian stooge or somehow more loyal to dictators than the United States. It’s an outrageous insult, even if she’s made mistakes.

Yes, she met with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and that was the wrong thing to do. But based on her record in totality, it’s clear that this was done with good intentions, likely in a misguided effort to avoid drawing the U.S. into yet another costly regime change war in the Middle East.