- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Yes, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is still running for president.

The Hawaii Democrat outlasted nearly all of her better-funded 2020 rivals, hanging around in the race and demanding that her campaign platform of ending “forever wars” get more attention.

“Hi. I’m here,” Ms. Gabbard said on Fox News this week as she questioned why the “political elite” and their “corporate media partners” are trying to “erase” her candidacy.

“Why I’m running for president is to bring about a sea change in our foreign policy, a sea change that says we will end these wasteful regime-change wars, stop going around the world trying to be the world’s police, toppling dictators, work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race — all of which are not making us any safer,” she said.

Ms. Gabbard has been relegated to the fringes of the Democratic race as it narrowed to a veritable two-man contest between avowed socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders and establishment favorite Joseph R. Biden, who appears destined to clinch the nomination.

The Democratic National Committee is not making it easy for Ms. Gabbard to remain relevant.

The DNC recently adjusted its qualification metrics for Sunday’s debate in Arizona to require candidates have at least 20% of the pledged delegates to the nominating convention to qualify for a spot on the debate stage.

Ms. Gabbard, who has won two delegates garnered from the March 3 primary in American Samoa, would have qualified if the DNC kept the metrics it had used for the past several debates.

She bristled at complaints that there are no women left in the race in the wake of the recent departures of Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

“It is actually a disservice to the voters, really. They’re disrespecting the voters in this country and their ability to make the best, informed decision about who they would like to see move forward as [the] Democratic nominee,” said Ms. Gabbard, a military veteran.

Still, her continued presence in a race has Democrats scratching their heads.

“She’s great for Fox, because she is a Democrat who’s very critical of her party,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon, who said she could be angling for a TV gig after her run does end. “It wouldn’t surprise me, just based on what I’ve seen, if she tries to run as a third-party candidate although I’m not quite sure where she’d get the money to get on the ballot and all that stuff.”

Ms. Gabbard also outlined a series of steps this week she would like to see taken to deal with the ever-expanding coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. She said the U.S. should follow the lead of countries like South Korea and China, which have expanded the availability of testing

“All of this bureaucratic red tape needs to get eliminated,” she said. “Those who need to get tested, whether they have insurance or not, must be able to do so.”

She also called for an emergency aid package that would support small businesses and ensure workers who might have to stay home from their jobs have access to paid sick leave and are guaranteed not to lose their jobs as a result.

Still, as Mr. Bannon said, she has perhaps become best known for butting heads with the Democratic establishment during her 2020 run.

She’s continually criticized the DNC for the metrics it used to gradually winnow the number of candidates on the debate stage. She also sued Hillary Clinton for defamation after the former secretary of state called her a “favorite of the Russians” in a radio interview last year.

Ms. Gabbard, who has repeatedly said she will not mount a third-party bid for the White House, also eviscerated Sen. Kamala Harris of California at a debate last year over Ms. Harris’s record of locking people up for marijuana-related offenses as California’s attorney general.

Mr. Bannon said he does think Ms. Gabbard has carved out some territory in the race as a “unique voice” with her anti-interventionist views, but that her quizzical relationships with Syrian Leader Bashar Assad and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi just raise more questions.

“I think her foreign entanglements, especially with the Russians and Modi and Assad, really undermine the credibility she had talking about that,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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