President Trump spoke to a very receptive audience at a Turning Point USA event in Florida Saturday. During his speech, he not only praised Tulsi Gabbard for voting “present” during the votes in the House on impeachment, but he also defended her against Hillary Clinton’s attacks. Christmas came early for Rep. Gabbard if she is looking to ingratiate herself with Trump supporters.
While many of us look at Gabbard’s vote on both articles of impeachment as taking a wimpy way out of choosing a side in the argument, Trump was happy to accept it. To me, her vote was a little too cute by half. She obviously was attempting to pander to everyone, both sides of the aisle, by trying to remain in the center.
It was a surprise move, yet it wasn’t. Gabbard is known to be someone willing to ruffle feathers and act outside the Democrat playbook. She isn’t a reliable team player. She dared to speak up against Hillary Clinton when no one else in the Democrat Party would do it. She went after Kamala Harris and her record on criminal justice reform during a Democrat debate. If she was truly bothered by the articles of impeachment, she should have delivered a message and voted no. She wouldn’t have been the only Democrat to do that if she was worried about going out on a limb. Two others voted no and a third Democrat voted no on one of the articles of impeachment. Now she is laying low and canceling media availabilities as her campaign is getting some attention.
Gabbard’s vote Wednesday was more in line with House Republicans, who voted “no” in a unified bloc. And her “present” vote also revived allegations that she’s a Russian asset who could play spoiler in the general election by running a third-party campaign, echoing criticism Hillary Clinton lobbed at the Hawaii congresswoman in October when she called Gabbard “the favorite of the Russians” in a podcast interview.
Gabbard is frequently mentioned in Russian propaganda and media, and her views on foreign policy have been criticized for aligning too closely with Russia and other foreign adversaries, such as Syria and its president, Bashar Assad.
Gabbard didn’t decide she would vote “present” until she got to the House floor on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with her thinking. But the campaign was at least somewhat prepared for it.
Frankly, only making a final decision about how she would vote that morning as she came to the House floor doesn’t exactly make her look strong in her convictions. Trump took the opportunity Saturday to bash Hillary Clinton for calling both Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein Russian assets paving the way for Trump’s re-election.
Pausing to give Gabbard credit for voting “present” during last week’s impeachment vote in the House of Representatives, Trump said, “I give her respect. She didn’t vote the other day. I give her a lot of respect because she knew it was wrong.”
“I don’t know her, but I know one thing,” Trump continued. “She is not an agent of Russia.”
Trump said he doesn’t know Jill Stein but, he said, “I’m sure she’s a fine woman.” The crowd cheered his remarks.
President @realDonaldTrump on Tulsi Gabbard voting present on Impeachment:
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) December 21, 2019
Trump didn’t mention, though, that Tulsi is in favor of censure of the president. She was calling for a vote on censure before the votes on the articles of impeachment.
This week’s Saturday Night Live show’s cold open did a skit of the Democrat debate. Cecily Strong played Gabbard.
As lights flashed on the stage and menacing music played, Gabbard’s character entered, saying, “Speaking of hurting our cause.”
Then, suddenly, Cecily Strong made an appearance, reprising her role as Gabbard.
“Tulsi Gabbard?” Rachel Dratch as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked.
“Present,” Gabbard’s character responded while smirking.
“Why are you here?” Klobuchar’s character asked.
“Democrats, I’ll get you, my party, and your little mayor too,” Gabbard’s character said, tenting her fingers.
She then erupted into an evil laugh as lights began to flash before she disappeared from the stage.
If Gabbard is looking for a job in Trump’s second presidential term in office, she will need to be a more reliable voice for Trump than she has been to date. She’s running against him in the Democrat primary now, after all. She’s not running for re-election in Hawaii. If she is thinking of becoming an Independent, that could justify her votes. We’ll see if she can qualify for the next Democrat debate.