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WEST BRANCH, Iowa (AP) — Hillary Clinton’s suggestion this past week that Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is being “groomed” by Russians to act as a spoiler in the 2020 race may have had the opposite effect of what the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee intended: It’s elevated Gabbard’s candidacy and may have inspired even more ardent interest in her campaign among Clinton critics.
On Saturday, Gabbard found fans among the many Clinton skeptics across Iowa, where Clinton barely won the 2016 Democratic caucuses against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Thing - Hillary - Person - Gabbard - House
“What is this horrible thing that Hillary said about you?” one person asked Gabbard at a house party in West Branch.
Gabbard responded that “it revealed the truth that I have been experiencing for a long time now — which is that, because I have been trying to bring about an end to our country’s long-held foreign policy of waging one regime-change war after the next. I am labeled as a traitor.”
Message - American - Peace
“This is a message that is being sent to every single American. who speaks out for peace,” she said.
Gabbard’s longshot campaign came under scrutiny this past week after Clinton appeared on a podcast where she did not mention the Hawaii congresswoman by name, but said she believes the Russians have “got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third party candidate.” There was no mistaking whom she meant.
Interest - Gabbard - Clinton - Evidence - Moscow
Although Russian interest in Gabbard is apparent, Clinton produced no evidence that Moscow is grooming or directly backing the congresswoman.
Gabbard’s campaign has been promoted by Russian state-owned media and a number of alt-right websites and defended on Twitter by the Russian Embassy. She’s previously faced controversy and criticism from leaders in her party for her unorthodox foreign policy positions, like her decision to meet Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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