HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard didn’t hold back Friday in her response to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Russians are “grooming” the Hawaii Congresswoman to run as a third-party candidate.
In a tweet on Friday, Gabbard called Clinton “the queen of warmongers” and the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
On Twitter, Gabbard also wrote:
“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.
“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”
Gabbard’s comments were in response to Clinton’s criticism of the White House hopeful, saying she’s too cozy with the Russians ― or at least Russian interests. Others have also made the same claim.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, during a podcast interview with former campaign manager David Plouffe.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”
On Friday, Gabbard reiterated that she will not run as a third-party candidate.
“I am working hard to become the Democratic nominee to defeat Donald Trump,” Gabbard said.
Clinton did not name Gabbard on the podcast, but none of the other female presidential candidates has been accused of being boosted by Russia.
When Clinton’s spokesman was asked if she meant Gabbard, he responded, “If the nesting doll fits.”
Gabbard has been trying to fight growing claims that she’s being supported by Russia.
In the fourth Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday, Gabbard claimed The New York Times and CNN were waging a “smear campaign” against her.
She said the media companies ― which hosted the debate in Ohio ― were trying to paint her as a “Russian asset” and apologist of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad.
The Hawaii representative has also sharply criticized a New York Times article that appeared under the headline, “What, exactly, is Tulsi Gabbard up to?”
The article raised concerns about her support from white nationalists and “alt-right internet stars,” along with “supportive signs from online bot activity and the Russian news media.”
The pointed comments from Gabbard are perhaps unusual for any candidate, but all the more unusual coming from a Hawaii representative who has said her campaign is being run with aloha.
In fact, she called the kick-off announcement for her presidential campaign “the aloha launch.”
This story will be updated.