Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said the accusations of her being a Russian government asset “without any basis” from Hillary Clinton “directly contradicts” Gabbard’s own “lifetime of service” to the United States, adding her $50 million defamation lawsuit against the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee is proceeding.
The Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii visited with the Seacoast Media Group editorial board Friday to make a final pitch to Seacoast voters ahead of the New Hampshire primary Feb. 11. Gabbard said her defamation suit against Clinton is set for an initial hearing in March after the former secretary of state’s lawyer was finally served with the lawsuit Thursday night.
Gabbard’s suit alleges Clinton “publicly, unambiguously and with obvious malicious intent,” lied about Gabbard’s supposed contacts with the Russian government, “whether out of personal animus, political enmity, or fear of real change within a political party Clinton and her allies have long dominated,” according to the complaint. Gabbard refers to the presidency as a position Clinton, “has long coveted, but has not been able to attain,” in the complaint.
Clinton, in a podcast interview, described a female candidate in the Democratic primary as a Russian asset. She never mentioned Gabbard by name.
Gabbard, who continues to serve in the Hawaii National Guard, said the unproven assertion by Clinton is dangerous for all Americans serving in the military because such an accusation opens them up to be investigated under the Uniform Military Code of Justice. Gabbard said as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, she regularly receives classified briefings, as such, she added Clinton’s alleged efforts to smear her could undermine public confidence in her integrity while serving in Congress.
“What (Clinton) has accused me of is being a traitor to the country that I love; that I’m willing to die for, that I’ve taken an oath of loyalty to,” said Gabbard, who deployed to Iraq as a member of the Hawaii National Guard from 2004 to 2005, plus another deployment to Kuwait. “Her efforts to try to smear my reputation and undermine the very values that define who I am, is not only limited to me, it is the same for any service member (who) has taken that oath of loyalty and honor to our country.”
Clinton has yet to respond to the lawsuit.
During Friday’s meeting, Gabbard dismissed speculation from national pundits that she would mount a third party run for president if she fails to secure the Democratic nomination, and added that continued attention on the issue was a way for political talking heads to dismiss her campaign.
“You have people like Hillary Clinton and others who are politically opposed to my candidacy trying to foment a sense of suspicion in folks who may otherwise support me,” Gabbard said. “Every one of the 115 times cable news channels out of D.C. ask me (if I’m running third party) the answer is always and continues to be no.”
A pillar of Gabbard’s campaign is her advocating for the cessation of so-called regime change wars and nation building abroad as a means to fund more robust domestic programs to benefit the American public. She cited the monthly $4 billion, or $5.5 million per hour, spent by the United States waging the war in Afghanistan, as an example of the chaotic and wasteful nature of the wars America has launched in the 21st century as chronicled by the Washington Post recently in its series, “The Afghanistan Papers.”
Gabbard said by President Donald Trump, Russia and China failing to renew nuclear non-proliferation treaties, such as START and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, it creates an opportunity for American defense contractors to vie for new multi-billion-dollar contracts to build nuclear weapons systems in what she called the “new Cold War.” She cited President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address when he warned the American people of the perils of a “military-industrial complex.”
“Over the last three administrations, it’s been exposed publicly now, that our own government leaders have lied to us; unable to define to themselves, even privately, what are we doing (in Afghanistan)? What are we trying to accomplish? What does victory look like?” Gabbard said.
She declined to state a targeted dollar amount to cut out of the current $760 billion defense budget.
“This is all connected,” she said. ” … education, infrastructure, clean water, protecting the environment; there’s never enough resources. We cannot begin to address how we provide those resources unless we deal with the trillions of dollars draining out of our pockets and our communities every day to go and wage wasteful regime change wars that do not make us any safer.”
Gabbard said she has enjoyed an immersive campaign in New Hampshire, having rented an apartment in Manchester as a home base during her visits to the Granite State. Gabbard also went surfing in Hampton and snowboarding at Cranmore, but said one of her favorite campaign stops was at a sugar shack in Freedom last year.
“I’ve appreciated getting to experience the independent spirit of New Hampshire and how seriously voters take the responsibility they carry being the first in the nation (primary),” Gabbard said of New Hampshire voters. “Everywhere we’ve gone, without exception, we’ve been welcomed so warmly.”
While Gabbard’s support has been hovering between 1% and 2% nationally, according to Real Clear Politics polling averages; she enjoys roughly 5% support in New Hampshire.
Gabbard said she feels she is best equipped to repair the hyper-partisan divide in America among the Democratic candidates.
“While some (campaigns) are dismissive of Republicans, or people who voted for Trump, or people who are on the other side, however you define that,” Gabbard said. “I’ve made it a point to be very inclusive and welcoming to everyone in our campaign, recognizing that this is bigger than about this election. This is about how we can, how we must, heal the divides in this country and that can only happen if we the people make it so.”
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