Manny Otiko
Aug 14 · 3 min read
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (AFGE/Flickr)

There’s a lot to like about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s presidential candidacy on first glance, but dig beneath the surface and you find a lot of disturbing choices and associations.

Sure, she’s made positive liberal-friendly statements such as saying she’s against America getting into foreign wars and stating she was proud to grow up in multicultural Hawaii, but that doesn’t make up for some of her past questionable choices.

Here are some of the issues I have with her.

  • She has a nasty habit of backing tyrants. In 2017, she met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad “on a fact-finding mission.” But she did this against the recommendations of the Democratic party. She also refused to believe the well-documented human rights abuse allegations against Assad, saying they weren’t proven. Assad has been accused of using chemical weapons against his own people. Gabbard, who is a practicing Hindu, has also backed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, who has supported some anti-Muslim policies. And the real kicker is Gabbard met with then president-elect Donald Trump and was considered for a position in his government. So after two years of race-baiting, birtherism and smearing Hillary Clinton, Gabbard decided Trump was someone she could work with!
  • Gabbard likes to present herself as a liberal, but she has some decidedly non-liberal views. She is not particularly fond of Muslims, and supported Trump’s Muslim ban. In the 2000s, Gabbard also backed her father who supported “conversion therapy,” a discredited practice that claimed it could turn gay people straight. She has later renounced this.
  • And most disturbing, Gabbard’s campaign has been supported by Russia. This was first reported by NBC in February. Most recently, the Russian embassy in South Africa came out in support of her. According, to Julia Davis, founder of Russian Media Monitor, the Russians back Gabbard because her world view aligns with theirs. In an interview on “Background Briefing,” Davis said Gabbard wants to roll back America’s foreign military presence and the Russians have the same goal. Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin has publicly stated that the world would be better off with reduced American’s influence. And some pundits would argue that his backing of Trump was also designed to achieve that goal.
  • Gabbard was also quick to call for an end to the Russian probe. When Attorney General/Trump defense attorney Bill Barr put out his false summary of the Mueller report, Gabbard released a video saying it was time to put the whole event behind us and “move forward.” However, she also authored the Securing America’s Elections Act which sought to strengthen election security and prevent further Russian interference in our elections.

I was part of a conference call including ethnic reporters who recently interviewed Gabbard and I brought up this issue. She was firm in her criticism of Russia.

She called Russian hacking a “threat to our democracy.”

So what’s the deal with Gabbard? I’ve learned to listen closely to the views of former NSA officer Malcolm Nance. He has written two books about Russia election interference, and I’ve read both. He’s been warning about the influence of Gabbard for almost a year. In his various interviews on “The Stephanie Miller Show,” MSNBC and other media, he has stated that Russian intelligence operatives often have a way of getting people to buy into their mindset and achieve their goals, without the target even knowing it. He said the Russians see Gabbard as someone who they can use. The only question about Gabbard is if she’s a “useful idiot,” a Russian term that described dupes who they can use, or a “fellow traveler,” a term that describes a foreign operative who believes in their cause.

Right now she’s polling at 1 percent and has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination. (She ranks behind Andrew Yang and didn’t even crack the top 10 candidates.) But she can do a great job of hobbling the eventual Democratic candidate — much like Jill Stein did in 2016. Stein also met with Putin in Russia. Voting for Stein, a perennial presidential candidate who has never won a national election, only helped Trump win. We’ve seen this movie before, let’s not fall for the same play.

Manny Otiko

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Manny Otiko is a freelance writer based in Southern California. Follow him @mannyotiko. I accept tips and donations at:

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