She single-handedly destroyed Sen. Kamala Harris’ (D-CA) presidential hopes. She embarrassed Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in the very first Democratic debate. She nearly obliterated Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) campaign if it were not for CNN interference. She is now taking on the Clinton machine. It has truly been an interesting 2019 for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the Republicans’ favorite Democrat. And this fiery upstart may hold the keys to the kingdom until the big day in 2020. How will she wield this power?
The Poll Nine Yards
The retiring congresswoman has been dwelling in the basement of national opinion polls throughout her entire run for president. As a result, she has resided in third-tier status, barely qualifying for the primary debates. She has experienced an uptick in recent weeks, thanks to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insinuating that Gabbard, who served the U.S. in Iraq, was an asset for the Russian government.
According to the latest USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, Gabbard is polling 4% nationally, up from less than 1% when the survey was taken in August. Gabbard has ostensibly taken advantage of Clinton’s hilarious neo-McCarthyist remarks to go on the offensive, using the media spotlight to advance her message of opposing regime change wars and slamming the Washington establishment.
But what makes Gabbard’s quest to become president fascinating is her cross-party appeal.
A recent CNN/University of New Hampshire survey discovered that 59% of New Hampshire Republicans held a favorable view of Gabbard, compared to just 23% of state democrats. Also, Gabbard is more likely to garner support from someone who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump in 2016 than someone who voted for Clinton: 55% versus 20%. This could turn out to be big for the three-term representative because the Granite State maintains an open primary, meaning that anyone – Republicans and Independents – can participate in the Democratic contest.
So, in such a polarized and toxic political environment, how can Gabbard, who holds many progressive views and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016, have so much love in the GOP?
Gabbard supports abortion but with restrictions, adhering to the principle of safe, legal, and rare. Though she agrees with the carbon-neutral objectives of the Green New Deal, Gabbard has reservations and concerns about the vagueness of GND. The congresswoman has supported a ban on military-style assault weapons and universal background checks, but she has opposed her fellow Democrats on other restrictive gun control measures. Overall, she wants free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, and the elimination of the electoral college.
How would any of these policies generate Republican approval? Well, she is not winning over the GOP base by championing marijuana legalization or the study of reparations. Instead, Gabbard is getting broad support on her foreign policy, the mainstream media’s disdain for Gabbard, and the Democrats’ frustration with Gabbard for appearing on Fox News and speaking with the likes of Dave Rubin.
In recent years, frustrated by the innumerable boondoggles overseas, the anti-war right has been resuscitated. This is part of the reason President Trump was elected; he has lamented on the Bush dynasty, the military-industrial complex, and the neoconservatives. The new generation of Republican voters want out of these foreign entanglements and regime change wars and no longer want to be the policeman of the world. As a result, a younger Republican is willing to reach across the aisle and engage with an authentic anti-war Democrat.
Of all the cable news networks, it has been the Fox News Channel that has given Gabbard fair coverage. A frequent guest of Tucker Carlson’s, Gabbard is continually asked for her opinions on foreign policy, Big Tech, and other issues that have been the centerpieces of her 2020 aspirations. Unlike most of her Democratic colleagues, Gabbard has been unafraid appearing on the bogeyman known as FNC. In the days after announcing her candidacy in January 2019, the media and the Democrats went on a smearing blitzkrieg, using names like “Putin Puppet” and “Assad Agent.” Some have gone as far as hinting that she is Islamophobic and a white nationalist because of endorsements by David Duke and Richard Spencer.
Seeing how this playbook has been carried out against anyone who does not adhere to leftist groupthink, it is obvious why conservatives would be sympathetic to her political endeavors, even if they are antithetical to their economic or fiscal principles. Plus, reading her latest Wall Street Journal op-ed could make anyone want to ride the Tulsi Tidal Wave:
“Those who follow the Bush-Clinton doctrine believe the only way to interact with other nations is by bombing them or starving them with draconian sanctions…Only when we recognize the failings of the past—embodied by Mrs. Clinton and her minions in the media—can we move forward to a future of peace, dignity, transparency and aloha.”
Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said that Gabbard “actually speaks to Democratic values in ways that Republicans can understand.” But the question is now: Can Gabbard maintain this diverse support?
As the World Turns
For months, Gabbard has stated multiple times that she opposes efforts to impeach President Trump. She told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade that such a decision would be “terribly divisive” for the United States. Days later, however, Gabbard said that she now supports impeachment proceedings and cast a vote for the resolution, joining all but two of her Democratic colleagues.
This was a surprise move. Will it now affect her multifaceted backing? We might not know until after her vote generates more media buzz.
For now, the press and the Democratic leadership seem more concerned about Gabbard running as a third-party candidate than her nod to impeachment. The fear is that a Gabbard third-party run would potentially draw votes away from the Democratic nominee next year and secure Trump’s re-election. This is an unfounded concern, and there is little evidence (right now) that this could happen.
While Gabbard has dismissed questions of whether she intends to run third-party, her reversal on impeachment can now leave the Swamp only guessing. In other words, Gabbard might have Washington on the edge of its seat over the next year- will she or won’t she? Even if there were not desperation to oust Trump in 2020, Gabbard would still be ridiculed and threatened for desecrating the sanctity of the two-party system and running as a third-party candidate a la Ross Perot.
Like the Washington Nationals, Gabbard could be the wild card nobody expected.
Tussling with Tulsi
Anytime Republicans are asked about Rep. Gabbard, they usually respond with, “She’s the sane one, right?” Although she endorses many of the progressive views espoused by the Democrats today, many would contend that she at least seems intellectually honest, not a panderer like all the guys and gals who have appeared on the debate stages so far. Would she be open to, let’s say, free-market economics? Perhaps we will never know until certain libertarian and conservative outfits reach out to her. Until then, what you see is what you get. So far, she is the Democratic it-girl for the right – and a cookie full of arsenic for the left.