- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 26, 2022

ORLANDO, Fla. — Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard claimed membership in the conservative resistance in a rare appearance by a Democrat at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

She drew strong cheers from the crowd, as she defended parents protesting at school boards, attacked Big Tech censorship and referred to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as an “autocratic leader” for his response to the trucker protests against COVID-19 mandates.

“In confronting all this, what are they so afraid of?” said Ms. Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat. “Who are they are afraid of? The answer is simple. They’re afraid of us.”

Ms. Gabbard, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, said her desire to heal the polarization in the country inspired her to cross party lines to speak at the conference.

Her quixotic presidential run also endeared her to conservatives with her contrarian views on foreign policy and culture war issues. Though often breaking with her party, she insists she is still a Democrat.

And yet, she attacked President Biden’s foreign policy, doubling down on her staunch anti-war stance that at times put her at odds with her party.

“They’re hypocrites,” Ms. Gabbard said in the speech. “They proclaim that we must go to war to spread democracy and freedom while they actively work to undermine our democratic republic and our freedoms right here at home.”

Following her speech, Ms. Gabbard received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Conservative talk radio host Larry O’Connor cheered Ms. Gabbard after her remarks, calling it inspiring.

“The weird thing is a Democrat just came here and delivered that speech,” Mr. O’Connor said.  “The weird thing is that a Democrat can’t go and deliver that speech at one of their gatherings.”

Ms. Gabbard capped the second night of the conference as the keynote speaker at the Ronald Reagan dinner on Thursday. Her speech followed a speech by conservative pundit Glenn Beck.

The four-day conference is a test site for potential presidential hopefuls to appeal to the GOP’s most conservative base.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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