Update: On Tuesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary election, defeating all other 2020 Democratic candidates. Following less-than-stellar results, both Andrew Yang and Michael Bennet suspended their campaigns. Gabbard who came in with only 3.3% of votes, said she will continue on in the primaries. "As much as they have tried to erase us from this election, we're still strong," she said, addressing her supporters.
This story was originally written on Tuesday, February 11, 2020.
It’s the last stretch before New Hampshire primaries on Tuesday and it still feels like Iowa isn’t even over — but all the candidates are making their one last push to win voters before zero hour. Even Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who has been so MIA it’s been hard to remember she’s still in the race, is going all out saying some bizarre stuff in her Tulsi usual. It’s unsurprising, especially with the word “gab” in her name.
Continuing the Tulsi trend of not holding back from choosing the My Way or the Highway route, Gabbard appeared on Fox News several times this last week, first on Neil Cavuto’s show and then on Sean Hannity’s. During her appearances, once again breaking away from the positions of her Democratic opponents, Gabbard defended President Donald Trump’s choice to fire Alex Vindman as Lieutenant Colonel. Vindman was fired from his role as director for European affairs for the United States National Security Council last week after recently testifying during impeachment hearings in November. "Ultimately, whether people like it or not, there are consequences to elections and the president has, within his purview, to make the decisions about who he'd like serving in his Cabinet," Gabbard said.
While many have posited that this is Trump’s way of getting revenge — including nearly all the other Democratic candidates — Gabbard essentially shrugged her shoulders, despite consistently touting herself as someone unafraid to stand up to Trump. Gabbard has frequently tried to appeal to the “center,” or voters who feel that Democrats and Republicans have been too divisive with each other. That’s why, even during the impeachment trials, she refused to “pick a side” as she explained, and Gabbard voted present to remain “neutral” instead of voting with the rest of her party for impeachment. That is now several strikes against the claim that she’ll stand up to Trump.
On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Gabbard sewed more seeds of division while speaking to Hannity, first calling for the chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez to resign over the debacle in Iowa, and then once again leaning into her opinions about Vindman.
In a final pitch to voters before New Hampshire, Gabbard appeared on WMUR9 to appeal to voters to stick with her in today’s primaries, saying she has the most experience to be qualified for presidency. “As a millennial, I bring a new generation with a fresh perspective but with the background and experience that will enable me to turn that into a reality. I will not be handicapped by lack of experience. Not only have I served as a soldier, but I’ve served in Congress for the last seven years, focused on our nation’s national security and foreign policy,” Gabbard explained. Was that a dig at Mayor Pete, a la Klobuchar? Gabbard didn't perform well in Iowa, and her support doesn't seem to rank among other candidates, so this is her final chance to win over voters.
Gabbard is a candidate who many have sparred with, so her more centrist comments that only further cements her as being an anti-establishment Democrat are par for the course. After the fiasco that was Iowa, whoever goes on to win New Hampshire will show the country who has staying power and could begin to sway voting trends. But it’s unclear at this point if Gabbard even has a last chance at the presidency.
With Twitter dubbing her the “chaos agent,” Gabbard's supporters would have to come out of hiding — much like she just did after the caucuses — in order to give her any kind of pull. Now, the question remains, will she stay the course and continue trying to win voters over with her Tulsi tea, or will she drop out?