Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is pushing back hard against Hillary Clinton.
The 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful on Friday actually dared the former secretary of State to come forward and share her ambitions for the next presidential election —not “hide behind your proxies” but to “join the race directly.”
“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation,” Gabbard also said.
MORE NEWS: Biden Goes To War Against Border Patrol
“We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.”
“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me.”
“Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies,” said Gabbard. “Join the race directly.”
Responding to those attacks, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this,” as CNN reported.
Asked earlier if Hillary Clinton had been referring to Gabbard in her comments, Merrill said to CNN, “If the nesting doll fits.”
Reached for comment about the mean things Mean Hillary said about innocent and wonderful Tulsi Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, "If the nesting doll fits." https://t.co/0Me3cZQALs
— Wonkette (@Wonkette) October 18, 2019
But CNN and others also noted that Merrill, on Friday evening — after Clinton’s comments drew outcry from both Democrats and Republicans — seemed to walk back the former secretary of state’s allegation.
He tweeted, “She doesn’t say the Russians are grooming anyone. It was a question about Republicans.”
MORE NEWS: Harris Calls Border Patrol Slave Drivers
Merrill also tweeted directly at Gabbard after her email about Hillary: “Assad day for your candidacy.”
That’s obviously a reference to Gabbard’s controversial meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017.
Assad day for your candidacy. https://t.co/JsQHnY6Ygo
— Nick Merrill (@NickMerrill) October 18, 2019
Gabbard made her statements after Clinton appeared to accuse her of being a Russian asset — and someone who’s being “groomed” to run as a third-party candidate.
Gabbard called Hillary “the queen of warmongers,” the “embodiment of corruption,” and the “personification” of “the rot” within the Democrat Party.
“Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain,” Gabbard wrote to Clinton in her three-part Friday tweet.
“From the day I announced my candidacy [for the 2020 Democratic nomination], there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation.”
Here’s Gabbard’s tweet:
Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019
All of this occurred after Clinton, in a recent interview, seemed to indicate her acknowledgment of a conspiracy theory that the Russians are “grooming” Gabbard to be a third-party candidate in 2020.
Appearing on the “Campaign HQ” podcast, hosted by former Obama aide David Plouffe, Clinton didn’t reference Gabbard by name — but her comments after Plouffe mentioned Clinton’s “belief that Tulsi Gabbard is going to be a third-party candidate propped up by Trump and the Russians” were telling.
“I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, in an apparent reference to Gabbard.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians,” she added.
“They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”
Hillary then accused Jill Stein, who ran against both her and Donald Trump in 2016, of also being a Russian asset.
“That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset.”
Other Democrats have made similar claims about Gabbard, a Hawaii Democratic congresswoman and Hawaii Army National Guard major who served in Iraq.
During this presidential debate in Ohio this past week, Gabbard fired away at those accusing her of such a situation.
“Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears,” Gabbard said. “This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia — completely despicable.”
Democrats have repeatedly accused Gabbard of being a “puppet for the Russian government.”
Gabbard has accused the U.S. of waging a “regime change war” in Syria.
Some people this past Friday expressed concern that Gabbard would run as a third-party candidate — thus helping Trump in his re-election efforts.
“If @TulsiGabbard runs, it wd be a huge windfall for Trump, Assad, Putin, Xi,” former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power tweeted in response to Clinton’s comments.
Here’s the Power tweet.
2016 election was won by 78,000 votes spread among 3 states. Absent 3rd party candidates, @HillaryClinton wd have won & @realDonaldTrump wld not now be harming Americans(& our friends) & aiding autocrats. If @TulsiGabbard runs, it wd be a huge windfall for Trump, Assad, Putin, Xi https://t.co/nTGFl5s4qd
— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) October 18, 2019
Share your thoughts on all of this below.
The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.