Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) announced early Friday morning that she would not seek reelection for her House seat, arousing immediate suspicion that she intends to launch a third-party presidential bid after all.
I’m so grateful to the people of Hawaiʻi for allowing me to serve you in Congress for the last 7 years. Throughout my life, I’ve always made my decisions based on where I felt I could do the most good. In light of the challenges we face, I believe I can… https://t.co/cNcjSNSoZl pic.twitter.com/h3wM6AZLMs
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 25, 2019
Gabbard is an extreme long shot for the White House, already failing to make one of the still-sprawling debate stages. She’s never broken through in the polls and has cobbled together a strange coalition of supporters that includes unsavory elements like former KKK leader David Duke.
Recently, Gabbard responded bombastically to Hillary Clinton’s intimation that she’s a Russian asset being groomed to run as a spoiler, unloading video after video and calling Clinton “queen of the warmongers.”
She also went on Fox News’ “Hannity” Thursday night where she bizarrely defended Republicans’ specious complaints about the impeachment inquiry taking place behind closed doors. In reality, there are many Republicans on all the committees overseeing the inquiry, all of whom are allowed into every hearing.
Gabbard spouts Republican talking points on impeachment inquiry pic.twitter.com/Jzo1F3pYaH
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) October 25, 2019
Suspicion that Gabbard may use some of her rightwing appeal to launch an independent bid has long been rampant, though the candidate denied any intention of doing so back in September.
She was facing a serious challenger for her House seat, and her recent proclamation that she’d carry her presidential candidacy all the way to the convention — requisite delegates be damned — did make her chances of holding onto the House seat look more shaky.
But still, this is an incredibly odd move. Most presidential candidates hedge their bets for as long as possible, keeping the option of their old seat open as a contingency plan.
Gabbard is not going to be a representative from Hawaii. And she’s almost as certainly not going to be the Democratic candidate. Thus, despite her protestation, this decision begs the question — what is she trying to be?