Hillary Clinton implied in a recent interview that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is being “groomed” by Russia to run a third-party candidacy.
“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. She’s the favorite of the Russians,” Clinton in an interview with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. (Listen here, around 35:30.)
Plouffe later pointed out on Twitter that a popular third-party run from Gabbard, or anyone else, would likely help President Donald Trump’s chances at re-election. Gabbard told CNN in August that she would not run as a third-party candidate.
Clinton continued: “They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And that’s assuming [Green Party politician] Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. She’s a Russian asset, I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third party candidate.”
When CNN asked Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard, he responded: “If the nesting doll fits.”
“This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality,” Merrill said. “If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation.”
Gabbard’s campaign did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.