Days after launching presidential campaign, negative publicity has Gabbard in ‘weak position’

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is on the defensive, less than a week after launching her presidential...
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is on the defensive, less than a week after launching her presidential campaign. (Image: MSNBC)
Updated: Feb. 7, 2019 at 4:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is trying to shake off more bad publicity for her presidential campaign.

On national television on Wednesday, she was questioned about her positions on Syria and Russia and even a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Gabbard immediately denounced David Duke after he put a “Tulsi Gabbard for President” graphic on his Twitter page banner, prompting a slew of bad publicity.

Duke later clarified that he is not endorsing her for president, but he does like her foreign policy positions.

On MSNBC on Wednesday, she was grilled about that ― and a new report claiming Russia may be trying to promote her candidacy through its state-owned media.

Gabbard said the report is a fraud based on a "discredited cyber-security firm."

“I think it’s very dangerous for articles like that and outlets like NBC to put out this information that seeks to bully people into saying you can’t come out and take the positions that I’ve taken,” Gabbard said, in her interview.

Gabbard is also facing criticism for her comments on Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, whom she met with twice in 2017 during an unannounced trip to the wartorn country.

“Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States,” she said, in that same interview.

The statements prompted some critics to predict that Gabbard, who has also had to apologize for previous anti-LGBTQ positions, would not only lose the race for president but also her seat in Congress.

Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore said that is a real risk.

"She's backed herself into a corner. She's getting criticism from the mainstream press, getting criticism from local press because she's not focusing on her job as a member of Congress because she's so engaged on these national issues. She is in a pretty weak position right now," Moore said.

Hawaii Island native State Sen. Kai Kahele announced he will challenge Gabbard for her seat in Congress.

It’s her first real challenger in years.

[Read more: Gabbard rejects support from former KKK grand wizard]

[Read more: Gabbard’s controversial positions plague early days of her presidential campaign]

[Read more: Running on platform of ‘peace at home and abroad,' Gabbard officially kicks off presidential campaign]

“Having a credible challenger like she has now with Sen. Kahele will make it even more difficult because it’s hard enough to run for president, it’s even harder if you’re also trying to run for Congress simultaneously,” said Moore.

Hawaii News Now has reached out to Gabbard’s campaign for further comment but has not received a response.

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