Election 2020

Tulsi Gabbard’s Fierce Attacks on Kamala Harris Likely Led to Latter’s 2020 Problems

A piece of reporting this week suggests a myriad of concerns for the California lawmaker's campaign

Image Credit: Screenshot, CNN/NYTimes

Attacks by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) are in large part responsible for the precipitous decline in the polls that fellow candidate Rep. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has been suffering, The New York Times reported on Friday.

This is apparently the view of the California lawmaker’s own supporters, donors, and staff, according to the same Times piece.

After a solid initial debate performance in June of this year, in Miami, when Harris held her own with the frontrunners and even took former Vice President Joe Biden to task on a number of issues, her standing was at 15 percent in a Real Clear Politics average in various polls.

Related: Kamala Harris Pummels Joe Biden on His Civil Rights Record

But during the second round of Democrat primary debates — held just a month after that, at the end of July — Gabbard sparred with Harris over her record as a prosecutor in San Francisco.

“There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana,” Gabbard said at that encounter in Detroit, Michigan, as Fox News also noted.

The younger Democrat also went after Harris on the cash bail system, said that she blocked evidence that could have “freed an innocent man from death row,” and in a subtle but shocking reference to slavery, claimed Harris kept prisoners beyond their incarceration time to be used as “cheap labor.”

“The bottom line is, Sen. Harris, when you were in a position to make a difference and impact in these people’s lives, you did not,” Gabbard concluded.

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Harris responded in that same debate by accusing Gabbard of disloyalty to the Democratic Party for her criticism of Hillary Clinton and for criticizing Democrats in general.

She also tore into Gabbard’s potential to beat President Donald Trump: “What we need in November is someone on this stage who has the ability to win, someone who has the ability to go toe to toe with Donald Trump, and someone who has the ability to rebuild the Obama coalition and bring the country back together.”

But after that July debate, many Harris supporters believe her fall in the polls began.

Her recent Real Clear Politics average hovers at around 4 percent.

That puts her well behind the leaders of the pack and in a sad-sack league with folks like billionaire Tom Steyer and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the latter of whom just lost support from a super PAC, which is closing down.

The Harris-Gabbard feud continues, as evidenced by this tweet this week.

Gabbard has a convenient foil in this rivalry.

She also garners free publicity every time she is attacked.

Gabbard has burnished her national security credentials, within a Democratic context, by also taking on fellow combat vet Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, in the most recent Democratic primary debate.

This tweet exemplifies her style of attack on Buttigieg.

Gabbard is in an interesting position.

The telegenic Army combat veteran has carved a niche for herself on both the Left and Right sides of the Democrat field.

On the Left, she is seen as taking on the corporate wing of the party in the guise of Hilary Clinton. Clinton’s recent assertion that Gabbard could be “a Russian asset” only made Clinton look desperate and foolish — and solidified Gabbard’s bona fides with the anti-Establishment Left.

On the right, her Army service, her feud with Clinton, and her criticism of certain Democrat positions could make her popular with moderate Democratic voters.

That possible popularity, however, has not turned into poll numbers as of yet.

But if Gabbard can survive in the race to and past Super Tuesday in March, she still would be an unlikely choice for the presidential nod. She would, though, become an interesting choice for a vice presidential nomination.

The sixth Democratic presidential debate, by the way, will take place on December 19 in Los Angeles. As of Nov. 8, 2019, six candidates had qualified for it, according to Ballotpedia.org: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

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David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence; he served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. After that, he worked as a political consultant and ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia. In addition to writing freelance pieces for LifeZette, he also writes for American Greatness.

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