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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Tulsi Gabbard, Advocate of a Less Interventionist Foreign Policy, Exits the Democratic Presidential Race

By Robby Soave - March 19, 2020 at 12:09PM

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii), a longshot candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination who garnered a small and eclectic following, has dropped out of the race and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.

"It's clear that Democratic primary voters have chosen Vice President Joe Biden to be the person who will take on President Trump," said Gabbard in a statement. "Though I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart, and he's motivated by his love for our country and the American people. I am confident he will lead our country, guided by the spirit of aloha, respect and compassion, and help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart."

Gabbard vowed to do everything she could to help Biden defeat Trump, demonstrating yet again that all the speculation she would run as a third-party spoiler candidate to help ensure Trump's re-election—a theory peddled by Hillary Clinton, among others—was baseless and absurd. (And in any case, it was far from clear that Gabbard would have taken more votes from the Democratic nominee than from Trump.)

Gabbard also had kind words for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), who is now the only remaining challenger to the presumptive nominee.

Her departure from the race is not a surprise: She had won just two delegates and was barred from recent debates. But Gabbard deserves tremendous credit for being the only candidate to put foreign policy at the center of her campaign. She doggedly called out the other candidates when they failed to reject the bipartisan consensus in favor of military intervention. She implored her rivals to denounce regime change in the Middle East, leveraging her status as a veteran to shore up her credibility.

Gabbard did other things to attract support from libertarian-minded individuals. She famously eviscerated Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.) in the July CNN debate over the former prosecutor's carceral history. And though she held mostly progressive economic views, she presented herself as an independent on issues pertaining to culture and identity politics.

Gabbard was one of just two Democratic candidates—Andrew Yang being the other—to show a real interest in building an alternative coalition that would include some libertarian-adjacent ideas. It will be interesting to see what she does next, she is not running for re-election to Congress in 2020.


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