Tulsi Gabbard Taps Out on Congress
Some sharp Twitter observers a few days ago noticed that, as her potential primary opponent Kai Kahele started making the talking head show rounds in the wake of her dust-up with Hillary Clinton, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) had not yet formally filed to run for re-election.
Well, about that…
Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said Thursday that she will not run for re-election for her U.S. representative seat, saying she wants to focus on trying to secure her party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump.
Gabbard, who represents Hawaii, made the announcement in a video and email to supporters.
“I believe that I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as your president and commander-in-chief,” Gabbard said in the video.
But she has no chance of becoming president, so what is really going on here is pretty apparent.
Such a definitive statement can be made because not only has the soon-to-be-former Congresswoman bounced around the bottom of the polls and lingered on the edges of the debate stages she has qualified for, she has managed to ruin any future she might have otherwise had in the political party she is ostensibly seeking the nomination of. That spat with Hillary Clinton was a reignition of a long-held grudge stemming from when Gabbard was the “next big thing” in waiting for the Democratic National Committee, but the then vice chair of the DNC resigned in conjunction with backing Bernie Sanders in what was supposed to be Clinton’s unopposed coronation in 2016. Add that to her well-documented and much discussed gladhanding of Bashar al-Assad on a trip to Syria in 2017 and you have someone who had already made plenty of enemies within her own party.
But that could have been worked out; after all Bernie is still tolerated by the party he only affiliates with when running for president before slipping back into his Independant designation for his duties in the Senate representing Vermont. And other supporters of Sanders 2016 campaign such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are doing just fine expanding on the Democratic Socialist niche that he helped carve out. She wouldn’t be the first, or last, Democratic pol to run afoul of the notoriously spiteful but increasingly irrelevant Clinton Inc.
That is, if she ever had any intention of running for anything as a Democrat again.
The key to knowing that she isn’t is not in her words, but her actions. Campaigns tell you who they are courting by their actions, and where they spend their most precious commodity: their candidate’s time. And it’s where Tulsi Gabbard is increasingly spending time and effort reaching out to and to whom she is appealing that is quickly making her place in the Democratic party highly suspect. When the Hillary comments broke and Gabbard’s Twitter rant clap back went viral, she delayed a campaign event in Iowa to appear once again on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. Shortly before her statement announcing she would not be seeking re-election went public, she appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, criticizing the closed door hearings of the impeachment inquiry. Along with the continued praise of some on the right for everything from her policy positions, to her attacks of other candidates on the debate stage, to just finding common cause with “enemy of my enemy”, Tulsi Gabbard has become the candidate of choice for a lot of voices online (real and otherwise), on the right, and in punditry that really enjoys the chaos of it all. The problem, of course, is all those folks she is courting among the Tucker Carlson/Sean Hannity viewers aren’t going to vote for her in a Democratic primary. Or for anything else, for that matter.
So what is she doing here? That’s apparent by her actions: It’s time for Tulsi Gabbard to cash in.
Hawaii may well be paradise, but it is also as geographically separated as you can get from the US and still be a state. All those long plane rides back and forth to the islands, on top of a national campaign, don’t leave a lot of time for the really important things in a public figures life. Like meeting with influential Wall Street money people the night before her announcement of leaving congress:
Tulsi Gabbard, fresh off her nasty tussle with former first lady, secretary of state, and 2016 Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, was given a hero’s welcome at a meeting with Wall Street executives and potential donors on Wednesday evening in New York City that took place at Anthony Scaramucci’s Hunt and Fish Club restaurant, FOX Business has learned.
Scaramucci, known as the “Mooch,” is a hedge fund salesman and short-lived communications director for the Trump administration before flaming out and transforming himself into a fierce Trump critic. While he wasn’t in attendance, according to people with direct knowledge of the event, about two dozen Wall Street executives sat for the off-the-record meeting with Gabbard that was hosted by Robert Wolf, himself a prominent Wall Street Democrat (golfing buddy of former President Barack Obama) and past chief of Swiss bank UBS’ U.S. operations.
Wolf now runs investment advisory firm 32 Advisors and does political consulting, the latter with Scaramucci. He is also a FOX Business contributor.
“Tulsi is a rock star,” said one Wall Street heavy hitter who attended. “She’s warm and smart, people in the room loved her.”
Now if you aren’t familiar with Robert Wolf, he was a long-time UBS Group executive and one-time Obama administration economic advisor, now head of 32 Advisors which “provides advisory services. The Company specializes in training programs, policy advices, security strategy, law enforcement, and other related services.” He is also a Fox Business and Fox News contributor since 2016. In his spare time he sits on the board of the Obama Foundation and is golfing buddies with its namesake. He covers a lot of ground between plenty of influential and powerful people. For folks like Tulsi Gabbard looking to plug into the post-political world of making money, this is the type of wall outlet one looks for. Wolf is publicly on record that the 2020 field needs to be narrowed, so odds are this wasn’t a pitch for campaign donations. He was also touchy enough about the meeting to feel the need to defend it on his Twitter account. It is, however, the kind of group that writes checks and gives good references to those lucrative business speaking engagements, and wowing them in person is a good way of setting up repeat business.
This is a tried and true bi-partisan method of the humble public service finding fortune that did not come with the legal restraints of moneymaking with political fame. Practically every national politician of note goes this route, either after their career is over, as a kick-start to a future campaign, or as a money making time out between public service gigs that have those pesky FEC disclosure requirements. Gabbard’s nemeses, the Clintons, have been the masters of this. Former UN Ambassador and SC Governor Nikki Haley is off on exactly this sort of interluding income sojourn right now pending her next move in electoral politics.
But unlike Haley, who has been doing so while maintaining the good will of her party and increasing in the good graces of her base for a return, Gabbard is spending more and more time courting the attention, and soon enough the financial resources, of folks not in her party’s political base. But if you are creating a financial base, all that fervent support from folks who cannot vote in closed primaries might just lead them to buy a book, some merch, attend conferences, and boost ratings on segments she appears on when she signs her own lucrative contributors deal with a network.
It’s conceivable that Tulsi Gabbard could really be planning a third-party run like Clinton and others charge, but it’s doubtful. Not because Gabbard denies it, but because of the facts of the current situation: She isn’t going to be president, she isn’t going to have a place in her political party afterwards, her biggest supporters at the moment can only be monetized in the more traditional ways that require her to be a private citizen. She is telling you with her actions what she is going to do. Ignore her words and listen to her.
Tulsi Gabbard is ending her political career to go into the Tulsi Gabbard business. Full time.