Democratic National Committee vice-chairwoman Tulsi Gabbard resigned from her post to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Sunday. In an email obtained by Politico, she explained her position to fellow DNC officers and reason for resignation. “I have taken my responsibilities as an officer of the DNC seriously and respected the need to stay neutral in our primaries. However, after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided I cannot remain neutral and sit on the sidelines any longer”.
The Hawaii state representative has questioned the decisions of the DNC in the past, most notably, when she called for more Democratic debates and was then promptly disinvited from the first of the election season. The DNC has been criticized continuously for their suspiciously low number of debates when compared to other election years. In 2008, the last time there was a real fight for the nomination, 26 debates were held. In the 2016 cycle, 6 were scheduled before the first primary. A Hillary bias in the DNC has been called by many, given that her 2008 campaign co-chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is now the Chair of the DNC.
Gabbard continues “There is a clear contrast between our two candidates with regard to my strong belief that we must end the interventionist, regime change policies that have cost us so much. This is not just another ‘issue.’ This is THE issue, and it’s deeply personal to me. This is why I’ve decided to resign as Vice Chair of the DNC so that I can support Bernie Sanders in his efforts to earn the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential race.”
The DNC vice-chair woman initially announced her the move on NBC’s Meet The Press, where she told him “As a veteran and as a soldier I’ve seen firsthand the true cost of war. I served in a medical unit during my first deployment, where every single day I saw firsthand the very high human cost of that war. I see it in my friends who now, a decade after we’ve come home, are still struggling to get out of a black hole. I think it’s most important for us, 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, exercises good judgment, who looks beyond the consequences, who looks at the consequences of the actions they’re looking to take, before they take those actions, so we don’t continue to find ourselves in these failures that have resulted in chaos in the Middle East and so much loss of life.” The decorated veteran of the Iraq War said that she believes that Bernie Sanders has the “military mindset” necessary for the job which includes an “analysis process” that carefully weighs all risks and advantages of military intervention, and just as importantly, “when we don’t use that military power”. Gabbard underlines worries about Hillary’s hawkish foreign policy record, which includes a vote in 2002 to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. In 2003, the US invaded the country under the false pretense of an Iraqi WMD program and toppled Saddam’s longstanding regime. A sloppy management of the operation has led to the dysfunctional Iraqi State we have today and continued American intervention in the country. Bernie Sanders, then a US representative of Vermont, voted against military intervention. Among numerous reasons, he had concerns that there were not “any estimates of how many young American men and women might die…or how many tens of thousands of women and children in Iraq might also be killed…”
Gabbard is now one of four members of Congress to endorse Bernie Sanders. This high-profile endorsement is welcomed by the Sanders campaign, which was defeated in the South Carolina primary by a 47.5% margin. “Congresswoman Gabbard is one of the important voices of a new generation of leaders… 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 that we should not be in,” Sanders said in a statement. The Senator from Vermont and Hillary challenger has been accused of being weak on foreign policy by many, and this endorsement will go far to help sure up his position in that field.
Twelve Democratic primaries will occur simultaneously on Super Tuesday, March 1st, with both Hillary and Bernie expecting to make big wins there. Is this the endorsement that Bernie needs, to give him the edge? Or has it come too close to the biggest elections day of the primary season?