scorecardTulsi Gabbard is still in 2020 the race and it's unclear why
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Tulsi Gabbard is still in 2020 the race and it's unclear why

John Haltiwanger   

Tulsi Gabbard is still in 2020 the race and it's unclear why
PoliticsPolitics4 min read
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate in Westerville, Ohio, U.S., October 15, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton


Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks during the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates 2020 election debate in Westerville, Ohio

  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a longshot candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination since she launched her campaign.
  • A slew of top-tier candidates have dropped out in the past few days, but Gabbard has shown no signs of following their lead. It's unclear why.
  • Gabbard has consistently been at the bottom of the polls, and has only earned two delegates toward the Democratic nomination.
  • She's spent much of the election cycle on Fox News criticizing the party she's running to lead.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has spent much of the 2020 election cycle on Fox News bashing the Democratic party and in some cases defending President Donald Trump as she runs for the Democratic nomination for president.

She's consistently been at the bottom of the polls, failed to qualify for a number of debates, and has only won two pledged delegates (by coming in second place in American Samoa), putting her far behind the two candidates now at the center of the race: Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.

1,991 delegates are needed to win the Democratic nomination, and the odds are not in Gabbard's favor.

Gabbard is about as likely to win the Democratic nomination as Barack Obama is to run for a third term for the presidency, and it's unclear why she has not yet dropped out.

If Gabbard is using her presidential campaign to audition for a role at Fox News, which some in the media have speculated, she seems to be in a fairly good position.

But if she's staying in the race in the hope of winning the nomination, it's a lost cause.

The Hawaii lawmaker's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider as to whether she believes there's still a chance she could go on to win the nomination.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Mike Bloomberg all dropped out in the past week. Every single candidate had won more delegates (and Buttigieg won Iowa), but they knew the math was not in their favor moving forward. Gabbard has apparently not reached the same conclusion.

But this is a fairly characteristic move for Gabbard, with her history of taking perplexing positions that garner attention but have no palpable consequences.

Gabbard sparked outrage, for example, after she voted "present" on the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump in December.

The vast majority of Democrats voted in favor of the articles, making Trump the third president in US history to be impeached. Gabbard decried the process as too politically motivated.

"My 'present' vote was an active protest against the zero-sum game the two opposing political sides have trapped America in," she tweeted. "My vote and campaign is about freeing our country from this damaging mindset so we can work side-by-side to usher in a bright future for all"

Gabbard's career has been typified by actions that are controversial enough to make her a momentary storyline but ultimately inconsequential.

This was also true after she visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in early 2017.

The visit with the accused war criminal occurred under nebulous circumstances, and she's since been widely accused of being an Assad apologist while echoing many of his conspiratorial talking points about a supposed US-led regime change war in Syria. Gabbard has consistently downplayed the atrocities perpetrated by Assad, and refused to call him a war criminal as she refers to US-backed groups as terrorists.

She's defended the visit by stating that the US has to be willing to engage in dialogue with adversaries to resolve conflicts. Roughly three years after her visit, Assad's forces and Russia are engaged in a devastating offensive in Idlib, Syria, that's creating what the UN has described as a "horrifying" humanitarian crisis.

Beyond the controversial Assad visit, Gabbard has also faced criticism over her ties to far-right Hindu nationalism, particularly as the world looks on in horror at deadly Islamophobic violence in India as Narendra Modi pushes for a divisive citizenship law that excludes Muslims. Gabbard has been a vocal supporter of Modi, despite his inherently discriminatory policies and views.

Perhaps the most attention Gabbard has received this election cycle came via a spat with Hillary Clinton last fall, in which the former secretary of state described the Hawaii Democrat as a "favorite of the Russians." Clinton also suggested that Republicans were "grooming" Gabbard to be a third-party candidate.

Gabbard responded by calling the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee the "queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long."

This war of words raised Gabbard's profile, but did not make her more popular, Insider polling from that time showed.

When you have to rely on controversy to propel your campaign, chances are that you're fighting a losing battle.

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