On the trail: Gabbard keeps targeting Harris but says ‘it’s not personal’

  • Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard stopped by Post and Beam Brewing on Friday to talk with voters and to appear on a local podcast. Gabbard also campaigned in Jaffrey the night before. March 22, 2019. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

For the Monitor
Published: 8/8/2019 5:25:32 PM
Modified: 8/8/2019 5:25:22 PM

For three straight weeks, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has been heavily criticizing rival Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

But Gabbard says her jabs at Harris – one of the top-tier contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination – is just business.

“It’s not personal,” the three-term congresswoman told the Monitor on Thursday as she campaigned in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

Gabbard – an officer in the Hawaii Army National Guard who served in the  Iraq War – two weeks ago argued that Harris has a lack of foreign policy experience.

Last week, Gabbard launched a blistering attack on Harris over her record as a prosecutor.

This week, Gabbard is continuing her questioning of Harris’ tenure first as San Francisco district attorney and later as California attorney general – emphasizing that “voters deserve an answer about the kind of record Sen. Harris has said she’s proud of when she was attorney general of California.”

And the four-term congresswoman charged that Harris says one thing on the campaign trail but did the exact opposite when she was a prosector.

“She’s talking about how she’s a champion for the people, but when she was in a position of power as attorney general in California, she perpetuated all that is wrong with our broken criminal justice system, negatively impacting far too many people in California, poor people, black and brown people who suffered as a result of the policies she put in place or that she perpetuated in that position,” Gabbard said.

Gabbard grabbed the national spotlight last week after putting Harris in the hot seat during a national debate as she challenged the California senator’s tenure as a “progressive prosecutor.”

A fact check of Gabbard’s attacks indicated that not all of her attacks were completely on target, at times she overstated or omitted details.

Harris defended her record, telling CNN the morning after the debate that “I am very proud of the work that I did as a prosecutor.”

Harris highlighted – among other things - her “innovative” re-entry initiative of getting jobs and counseling for former offenders and – and said that when she was attorney general, California became the first state to require special agents to wear body cameras.

And she brushed off Gabbard’s attacks as a case of lower-tier candidates “trying to make a name for themselves.”

Gabbard kept up her criticism this week, tweeting on Tuesday that “Kamala’s entire campaign is based on a lie.”

The jabs come as Gabbard attempts to qualify for the third and fourth rounds of Democratic presidential nomination debates, which will be held in September and October. She’s said that she’s already reached the threshold of 130,000 contributions from individual donors. But she’s still short of the polling criteria – reaching two percent in four qualifying surveys.

Possibly complicating things will be Gabbard’s upcoming two-week deployment this month to Indonesia for Army National Guard training. Gabbard is scheduled to head overseas after Thursday’s quick stop in New Hampshire and Friday’s equally short trip to Iowa, the state that votes first in the primary and caucus presidential nominating calendar.

“I’m not thinking about the politics of it. I’m proud to be able to have the opportunity to serve my country in different ways and I’m looking forward to fulfilling that duty and I have a great campaign team and volunteers who will continue carrying on the campaign in my absence,” Gabbard told the Monitor.


Lewandowski predicts Trump will win NH in 2020


Ahead of next week’s campaign visit to New Hampshire by Donald Trump, the Granite State resident who’s closest to the president says he believes the Trump will carry the state in next year’s general election.

Windham’s Corey Lewandowski –  the conservative political operative who managed Donald Trump’s White House campaign from its start in 2015 through the 2016 primaries and who remains a close outside adviser to the president – told the Monitor “I think he wins New Hampshire.”

Trump’s rally next week at the SNHU arena in downtown Manchester is the president’s first campaign event in New Hampshire since the rally he held at the same venue on the eve of the 2016 election.

“There’s only one arena in the entire state that can hold the crowds that this president puts together and that’s the SNHU center,” Lewandowski said.

He emphasized that “the massive crowds that he brings out can only be done in one place so it’s a big lift for the police officers in Manchester and the surrounding communities to have the president come up and do these big rallies.”

Trump narrowly lost New Hampshire’s four electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 by less than 3,000 votes.

But Lewandowski argues that this time things are different.

He noted that Trump’s “consolidation of support in the Republican Party is much stronger than it was.”

“Many of the Republican establishment didn’t support the president. They didn’t think he was the right person and that cost him the four electoral votes in New Hampshire. Those days are over,” Lewandowski said.

He emphasized that “the dinosaurs who thought they were running the Republican Party, the establishment, types who want to be in Washington and not New Hampshire don’t exist anymore. This party, the Republican Party is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”

Lewandowski generated plenty of buzz last week when he said he was seriously considering a 2020 run for the U.S. Senate.

Lewandowski said his ability to fundraise thanks to his close relationship with Trump would make him the most formidable Republican to face off next year against two-term Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“If I decide to get into this race, I think you’ll see my fundraising prowess come to fruition very quickly,” he said.

If Lewandowski does run, he says he’d like to clear the primary field.

“I will run as the Trump candidate,” he said. “I think in a Republican primary that’s a very difficult thing to beat if I choose to get in.”

Both of the Republican candidates in the race – former state House of Representatives Speaker Bill O’Brien and retired Army brigadier general Don Bolduc – say they have no intentions of dropping out of the race if Lewandowski declares his candidacy.

Lewandowski said he would ask for Bolduc and O’Brien to support him if runs.

“I don’t know if either of those two candidates, if I get in the race, stay in the race,” he said.

O’Rourke’s NH staff refuses ‘to do nothing’

Democratic presidential candidate and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas is staying put in El Paso in the wake of this past weekend’s massacre that left 22 people dead in the town where he grew up and continues to call home.

The Democratic presidential candidate suspended his campaign activities on Saturday following the shooting, and quickly returned to his hometown.

O’Rourke has visited hospitals in El Paso to speak with some of those injured in the shooting and has attended vigils since returning home on Saturday.

And his campaign staff in Iowa and New Hampshire have donated blood and sent care to people injured in the shootings in El Paso as well as Dayton, Ohio, site of a second mass shooting this past weekend.

“We were trying to figure out what was best for us to do up here and I was inspired by those organizers from Texas (on the campaign’s staff in New Hampshire) who basically told us the one thing they did not want to do was nothing at all,” O’Rourke New Hampshire state director Mike Ollen told the Monitor.

“Inspired by those folks who have direct connections to what happened down in El Paso, we decided that we were going to refuse to do nothing,” he explained.

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