The consequences of cause and effect are sometimes not what you’d expect. When former secretary of state Hillary Clinton referred to Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as a “favorite” of the Russian government, I can’t begin to imagine what was going through the former first lady’s mind. Did Hillary believe that using such harsh language would cause Gabbard’s supporters to abandon her overnight in a “Do as I say” kind of response?

Of course, we now know the opposite action seems to have occurred. Rather than risk missing the November debate entirely, Hillary’s comments against Gabbard served to raise her profile and almost overnight turn her into a cause célèbre for some disaffected Democrats unwilling to toe the line for the party establishment.

In short, Tulsi Gabbard can probably send Hillary a “Thank You” card for helping her earn at least one more spot in the national limelight. As CNN reports, the timing of Gabbard’s  polling bounce doesn’t seem coincidental:

After Clinton’s attack on Gabbard — calling her “favorite of the Russians” — the Hawaii Democrat’s poll numbers rose, earning her a place on the November debate stage.

Before the Democratic debate on October 15, Gabbard looked like she was going to miss November’s debate. Candidates needed to hit at least 3% in four qualifying polls. Gabbard had never hit that 3% mark in any qualifying poll this entire year.

Then Clinton’s remarks came on October 17.

Following Clinton’s podcast appearance, Gabbard got a qualifying poll from Suffolk University Iowa poll that was taken partially before Clinton’s comments and partially after.

She then reached 5% in a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll conducted the following week. Over that same period, Suffolk gave Gabbard another qualifying poll. Finally, she earned 3% in a Quinnipiac University poll from Iowa this past week.

Four qualifying polls means Gabbard is in the November debate, where she’ll be able to spread a message that Clinton is not a fan of.

With every intention of shutting down Gabbard’s campaign, for some inexplicable reason, Hillary ended up boosting Gabbard’s profile and probably helping her garner a lot of Google searches.

Before Hillary’s statement, Gabbard seemed destined to continue fading into polling obscurity and likely wouldn’t come close to hitting the mark for November. So unlikely was Gabbard’s debate prospects, it seemed, that we had already written about the nine candidates most likely to round out the November debate stage.

Then the poll numbers started rolling in for Gabbard and she earned a debate spot in a matter of days just before the deadline.

Why the backlash against Hillary in support of Gabbard? CNN says it’s because there is a slice of Democratic primary voters who detest Hillary and didn’t support her in 2016:

What Clinton may not have foreseen is that there are some Democratic primary voters who aren’t fans of hers. In our CNN poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary, Gabbard got 2% among those who said they voted for Clinton in the 2016 general election. She only reached 5% overall thanks to scoring 10% of those who said they didn’t vote for Clinton in the 2016 general election.

Gabbard was already tapping into this vein with her anti-establishment candidacy, but Hillary’s comments seemed to nearly double the number of poll respondents supporting her.

The kicker in all this is that thanks to the boost, not only has Gabbard made the November debate but she already has two polls that go toward qualifying for the December debate as well.

In an effort to quiet a voice in the primary, Hillary may have helped to amplify it and give it another national audience to speak to.


  1. Hillary was a terrible Secretary of State and a terrible member of the Democratic Party. I literally left the DNC and became an independent because her invasion of Libya and apocalyptically bad foreign policy in Syria.

    When I was in high school I marched in protest against middle eastern regime change wars with W. as president, and I haven’t changed my mind since. HRC is W. Bush in a new skin, and she needs to leave.

    Tulsi 2020

  2. When will Billary learn to keep her elitist trap shut? All her bravado in 2016 against first Sanders then Trump led to her monumental gaffes and missteps that doomed her. Now she is trying to disparage Tulsi and again her vile comments are boomeranging on her.?

    I personally don’t care for any of the Democratic candidates but if I were forced to pick one, I would go with Tulsi. Alas next year won’t be hers or any other Democrats. 2020 is the next step of President Trump’s climb to greatness.?

    • I agree. Hillary should have ignored Tulsi, who has been within the margin of error of zero all year. By stating the obvious. Hillary just gave Tulsi attention–and got her back into the debates.

      Tulsi has basically two messages: (1) Democrats are bad, and (2) War is bad. But is she anti-war?

      This is what International Policy Digest has to say.

      Gabbard told an interviewer that the U.S. has a responsibility to “root out evil where ever it is” to defeat “radical Islamic extremism.” One might easily mistake this as a quote from Dick Cheney.. . .

      Even if one grants the ‘very limited precision strikes’ justification, her own supporters, when used by anyone other than Gabbard, view that as unacceptable. . .

      Even when given the chance to try and end or significantly reduce the wars in Iraq and Syria, Gabbard has voted against doing so. . .Gabbard’s worldview will not end war, but rather continue it indefinitely. Drone warfare is still warfare and just because on the surface you’re not using physical troops to cause death and destruction around the globe does not mean that you’re actually alleviating death and destruction around the globe. You’re just making it more cost-effective and giving it better optics.

  3. Another article smearing Gabbard through biased opinion. The polls chosen by the DNC often use low sampling, have high margins of error, and reflect a more conservative sampling. They have allowed networks hosting debates to also control the polling. CNN just happened to decide not to fund a qualifying poll in New Hampshire, where Gabbard has surpassed Harris, in August. That poll could have qualified Gabbard for the August debate while she was on a break from the campaign serving on active duty in Indonesia, which she did not have to do. Notice how they treat the candidate that puts service above self? Clinton was arguably one of the worst candidates in history and one of the reasons millions chose not to go to the polls. Rather than choose between two horrible candidates I, like many others, voted third party. Clinton never got the message. Instead her tremendous,ego inspired her to , once again, influence the elections through lies and innuendo. This time it did backfire. Her minions on the View also helped by keeping the spotlight on Gabbard. Her support will only continue to grow as more people her her speak and get to know who she really is..

    • The article is by no means meant to be a smear against Gabbard. Everyone gets a fair shake here. It’s more meant to point out the influence Hillary continues to have on the 2020 primary despite being unliked by a lot of Democratic voters, such as yourself. In Hillary’s determination to silence Gabbard, she actually helped to amplify her message.

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