U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard resigned her post as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee today, allowing her to formally endorse Bernie Sanders for president.
Gabbard made the announcement on the NBC political talk show “Meet the Press.”
“As a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, I’m required to remain neutral in Democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer,” Gabbard laterexplained in a video statement. “The stakes are just too high.”
Gabbard cited her experience as a veteran of two military deployments in arguing that Sanders has the judgment necessary to make sound military decisions.
“We need a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety andsecurity of the American people and who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change,” Gabbard said. “Such counterproductive warsundermine our national security and economic prosperity.”
Gabbard’s statements were as much an indictment of Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an endorsement of Sanders, a senator fromVermont.
In fact, Gabbard’s announcement coincided with the publication of a New York Times investigative series focusing on Clinton’s involvement in the 2011 military intervention inLibya, an action that led to the toppling of leader Muammar Gaddafi and the continued destabilization of the country.
Gabbard said this evening the timing of her announcement was a “complete coincidence” with respect to the Times stories. However, she noted that Clinton’s advocacy formilitary intervention in Libya was further example of the former secretary of state’s flawed judgment in matters of international crisis.
“You can tell what a person will do in the future based on what they’ve done in the past,” Gabbard stated in an email to the Star-Advertiser. “Hillary Clinton was not only the leading Democratic voice for the war in Iraq, she was the head cheerleader and architect of the war to overthrow the Libyan government of Gaddafi which has resulted inchaos, a failed state, and a stronghold for ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Hillary was and continues to be the loudest voice for the disastrous war to overthrow the Syrian government ofAssad.
“These wars of regime change have cost trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, women, and men in the MiddleEast,” Gabbard continued. “And Al-Qaeda and ISIS are stronger than ever.”
Gabbard reiterated her belief that Sanders would have avoided such costly decisions.
“This is precisely why we need a Commander in Chief who has sound judgment and foresight — the ability to look ahead to the potential consequences of our actions beforewe take those actions,” Gabbard said. “How might other actors in the region react to our actions? What will we then do in response? And you continue to look down the line soyou can anticipate any unintended consequences and base a decision on that foresight. This is what is called a military mindset — a mindset that is absolutely critical in acommander-in-chief.”
Shortly after Gabbard’s announcement on “Meet the Press,” the Sanders camp expressed appreciation on Sanders’ Twitter account: “As a veteran of the Iraq War, Rep.@TulsiGabbard understands the cost of war. I am honored to have her endorsement.”
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accepted Gabbard’s resignation, stating, “The Democratic National Committee is grateful for her service. As one of the firstfemale combat veterans to serve in Congress and the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress, Congresswoman Gabbard is a role model who embodies theAmerican ideal that anyone can dream big and make a difference. She is also a colleague in Congress and a friend, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside herwhen our Party unites behind whoever emerges as our nominee.”
Gabbard and Wasserman Schultz were at apparent odds last October, when Gabbard claimed that she was disinvited from a Democratic presidential debate in Nevada afterpublicly arguing for a more extensive debate schedule.
Gabbard’s endorsement also represents a high-profile break with the local Democratic establishment, which has thrown its collective weight behind Clinton.
In fact, her announcement came just two hours before the official opening of the “Hillary for Hawaii” campaign office on North King Street, an event attended by former U.S.Sen. Daniel Akaka and former Hawaii Govs. George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano.
The rest of the Hawaii congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Rep. Mark Takai — have already pledged their support to Clinton.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) February 28, 2016
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 28, 2016