Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard has abandoned her race for re-election in Hawaii to focus on securing her party’s presidential nomination, kicking the ‘Russian asset’ conspiracy theorizing into high gear.
Gabbard announced on Friday that she would not seek re-election to Congress, declaring she would focus instead on the presidential race. Promising to “end our interventionist foreign policy of being the world’s police, toppling dictators and governments we don’t like, and redirect our precious resources towards serving the needs of the people here at home,” she “humbly” asked her Hawaii constituents to support her candidacy, sending social media into a frenzy of speculation.
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The “Tulsi is a Russian asset” crowd declared victory, insisting their champion, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, had been right all along – Gabbard was prepping a third-party run, backed by a war chest full of rubles.
The hashtag #TulsiStein was trending, apparently because Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate who sat at a dinner table with Vladimir Putin for a few minutes, had also been proven to be a Russian operative by Gabbard’s decision.
“Realize the damage third party candidates can do…especially when they are propped up by Russian money and bots,” one user darkly hinted, the #TulsiStein hashtag the only hint of which candidates she was referring to.
Tulsi’s purpose is to pave the path for a 3rd Party when Bernie loses by March 3. He will take the head of the ticket & @TulsiGabbard will be his VP to get female votes, rabid anti-Hillary, anti-DNC fanatics & offset the age albatross. Putin has this all planned. #TulsiStein pic.twitter.com/TzLFHujgXd
— Puesto Loco™ (@PuestoLoco) October 25, 2019
Others called for Gabbard, an American citizen who serves in the US National Guard, to be deported.
Gabbard’s complaints about the Trump impeachment inquiry, voiced in the enemy territory of Fox News’ Sean Hannity show on Thursday, were held up as proof that she was a traitor. “I want this orange monster out of office and she’s doing nothing to help,” one user complained, calling her a “narcissistic train wreck of a human being.”
No longer supporting impeachment of the most corrupt, illegitimate POTUS in history?
— Trinity Resists (@TrinityResists) October 25, 2019
It was sometimes hard to tell where sincere conspiracy theorizing ended and comedy began.
Okay, guys, hear me out. What if Tulsi Gabbard doesn’t actually exist? What if Tulsi is actually Eric Trump in an elaborate costume and this is all just a desperate ploy to get love and affection from a father who doesn’t love him?
— Meredith (@meralee727) October 25, 2019
But many called for sanity, marveling that “if you don’t agree to the new cold war you’re labeled a Putin puppet…weak sauce.”
“I have some issues with [Gabbard] but I will defend her against queen of warmongers Clinton any day,” one user tweeted.
— HootHootBerns🐦🌺 (@HootHootBerns) October 25, 2019
Looking at the trends today: #TulsiStein, Clapper, Maria Butina, it must be Russia fearmongering day.
Regardless of the talking point, the people must to be paranoid of Russia. If Russia is SO IMPORTANT, why did we imprison the woman who exposed Russian voting machine hacking? pic.twitter.com/AsRvaIZG5u
— Christine (@Gumdrop1956) October 25, 2019
Stein herself joined the conversation, pointing out that the claim she and Gabbard had been backed by Russian bots was itself responsible for running fake “Russian bot” ops in a 2017 Senate race.
The firm behind claims that Russian bots support me & Tulsi Gabbard was caught staging a false-flag operation using fake Russian bots they created to meddle in a US election. That firm, #NewKnowledge, then wrote a Senate report on Russian meddling! https://t.co/ux7Ess92NN
— Dr. Jill Stein🌻 (@DrJillStein) October 25, 2019
Clinton hinted last week, without mentioning Gabbard by name, that Russia was “grooming” her for a third-party run. When Clinton’s spokesperson was asked whether she was referring to the Hawaii congresswoman, however, he confirmed it, quipping “if the nesting doll fits…” Gabbard hit back with a tweet denouncing the former Secretary of State as the “queen of warmongers” and daring her to enter the race herself.
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