WASHINGTON (UPI) — Defying her boss, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC’s vice chair, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, has stepped down from her post to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.
Gabbard, who is regarded as an up-and-coming female lawmaker from Hawaii who served in the Iraq war, had been sparring with Wasserman Schultz over the presidential race. The DNC chair has been a prominent backer of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination.
Appearing Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Gabbard said the decision to leave her party post was not made lightly.
“As a veteran, as a soldier, I’ve seen firsthand the true cost of war,” she said. “As we look at our choices as to who our next commander-in-chief will be is to recognize the necessity to have a commander-in-chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgement.”
Gabbard cited Clinton’s vote in favor of the Iraq invasion in 2002, saying she trusted Sanders, a Vermont senator who opposed the invasion, to avoid entering another military quagmire in the Middle East. Appearing Monday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, she said Sanders has the foresight to avoid “interventionist regime change wars.” She denied her stepping down from the DNC was due to a personal conflict with Wasserman Shultz.
The two women clashed last year over the schedule for candidate debates, which the DNC organizes. Gabbard called for more debates, which was widely seen as potentially harmful to Clinton’s status as the prohibitive front-runner. After Gabbard went public with her position, she said Wasserman Schultz told her she was not invited to the first Democratic debate in Nevada.
For his part, Sanders welcomed Gabbard’s endorsement.
“Congresswoman Gabbard is one of the important voices of a new generation of leaders,” the Sanders campaign stated in a press release. “As a veteran of the Iraq War, she understands the cost of war and is fighting to create a foreign policy that not only protects America but keeps us out of perpetual wars.”
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