Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) is hitting back at Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that her presidential run is being boosted by Russia, lashing out against the former secretary of state as the “personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”
The dust-up was spurred by a “Campaign HQ” podcast interview released Friday in which Clinton, without providing evidence, asserted that “somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary” is being groomed “to be the third-party candidate.”
The comments were widely interpreted as referring to Russia. However, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill later argued that she was instead referring to Republicans.
Though Clinton did not name Gabbard, at the fourth Democratic debate in Ohio earlier this week, the congresswoman claimed on stage that The New York Times had called her a Russian asset when, in fact, it had recently reported that she is often discussed by Russia’s state-run media.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians,” said Clinton, who was the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. “They have a bunch of sites and bots and ways of supporting her so far. And that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset.”
Stein later slammed Clinton’s remarks on Twitter, writing that she was “peddling conspiracy theories to justify her failure instead of reflecting on real reasons Dems lost in 2016.”
In a response of her own, Gabbard unleashed a torrent of criticism against Clinton, describing her as “the queen of warmongers” and the “embodiment of corruption,” two attacks that have also been launched by President Donald Trump.
Gabbard, who is polling at 1% and has repeatedly claimed to be the victim of an unfair political system, alleged that “there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation” by Clinton and others “afraid of the threat I pose.”
“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me,” Gabbard added. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”
Clinton has yet to publicly respond to those remarks.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been amended to note that Clinton’s spokesperson argued she was referring to Republicans in her remarks, not Russia.