Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) doubled down Thursday on her targeted attack against fellow 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in a post-debate interview with Cheddar.
"This is nothing personal. Voters deserve to know the truth," Gabbard told Cheddar Thursday. "But it speaks to the fact that her presidential campaign, and the rhetoric that you hear, is a lie."
On night two of the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, Gabbard unleashed an unexpected attack on Harris over her handling of criminal justice policies, like the death penalty and marijuana justice, when she served as attorney general of California.
"I'm deeply concerned about this record," Gabbard said Wednesday at the debate. "She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations, and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana." The Hawaii Congresswoman was addressing Harris's February interview with The Breakfast Club where she admitted to smoking pot herself, saying "I did inhale," jokingly. During the fiery exchange on the debate state, Gabbard added: "She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prisons beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California."
In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper after the debate, Harris reacted to Gabbard's comments, saying, as a "top-tier candidate," she expected hits "especially when some people are at zero or 1 percent, whatever she might be at," referring to Gabbard's poll numbers.
But Harris took a bigger dig at Gabbard's controversial past: "This coming from someone who has been an apologist for an individual, Assad, who has murdered the people of his, you know, of his country like cockroaches. She who has embraced and been an apologist, in a way, to refuse to call him a war criminal."
Harris was referencing Gabbard's "fact-finding" mission in early 2017 when she met with Syrian President Bashad al-Assad, an authoritarian leader who is widely considered a war criminal.
Gabbard said Harris's post-debate target was a "cheap smear," adding, "This is pathetic."
"Why doesn't she counter with something that defends the record that she claims to be so proud of?" the congresswoman asked. "Instead she's throwing out and lobbying cheap smears, and I think that it's a disservice to voters. They deserve better. They deserve to hear the truth." According to Google Trends, Tulsi Gabbard was the most Googled presidential candidate on night two of the democratic debates in all 50 states. Nevertheless, the next debate has new criteria to qualify, and Gabbard is running out of time.
She is one of only three presidential candidates who are U.S. veterans (Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Seth Moulton have both served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively), and on Wednesday, she promised a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan within her first year as Commander-in-Chief.
She told Cheddar that during the August congressional recess, amid her ongoing presidential campaign, she will be on a two-week annual National Guard training mission in Indonesia with servicemembers of Hawaii.
"As a soldier, I will never apologize for doing all that I can to prevent leaders in our country from waging more costly, destructive, regime-change wars the likes of which we have seen in Iraq, and Libya, and Syria," she later said.