On Tuesday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, attacked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as “not qualified” to serve as president. She claimed that “personal perspective as a soldier” is essential for presidents and she singled out Harris as lacking the necessary “temperament” to lead the country.
“I think one of the things I’m most concerned with is, Kamala Harris is not qualified to serve as commander in chief, and I can say this from a personal perspective as a soldier,” Gabbard told Clay Travis on the podcast “Outkick the Coverage.”
Gabbard argued that Harris has “got no background or experience in foreign policy, and she lacks the temperament that is necessary for a commander in chief. I’ve seen the cost of war firsthand. I’ve experienced the consequences of what happens when we have presidents, as we have from both political parties in the White House, who lack experience, who lack that foreign policy understanding, who therefore fall under the influence of the foreign policy establishment, the military-industrial complex.”
“This is what’s so dangerous. This is what we’ve seen occurring over time,” she said.
Gabbard was deployed to Iraq during her time serving in the Army National Guard.
Travis originally brought up Harris, asking the congresswoman what she thought about the famous debate moment between the California senator and former Vice President Joe Biden. Harris had confronted Biden on the issue of forced busing for racial integration. “Those are really kind of ancient debates,” Travis said. Gabbard appeared to agree, pivoting to the issue of Harris’s lack of military qualifications.
Lily Adams, Harris’ communications director, shot back at the Hawaii congresswoman, criticizing her foreign policy.
“Definite hard pass on taking national security advice from Assad’s cheerleader,” Adams tweeted. When The Hill approached Harris’s campaign for comment, the campaign directed the outlet to this comment.
Definite hard pass on taking national security advice from Assad's cheerleader. https://t.co/X7aCVW9Jxi
— Lily Adams (@adamslily) July 23, 2019
In 2017, Gabbard expressed skepticism about reports that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people. She also met with Assad that year. As recently as February, she claimed that Assad is “not the enemy of the United States.” In March, she walked back those comments, saying that there was evidence both the Syrian government and terrorist groups had used chemical weapons. She refused to call Assad a war criminal, however.
Adams’s response is effective, but it only casts suspicion on Gabbard — it does not answer the serious charge that Harris, like so many other presidential candidates, has no military experience. Whatever the Hawaii congresswoman’s faults — and she has many — her criticism on this point is very valid.
Besides Gabbard, there are two veterans in the Democratic primary: Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind.; and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.). Of these three, Buttigieg has the most potential in the 2020 race, although even he is polling rather poorly compared to Biden, Harris, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Most likely, Trump will have more military experience (as commander-in-chief) than his eventual Democratic rival.
As for Kamala Harris’ temperament, there are many reasons to be suspicious. As California’s attorney general, she ran her office as a far-left activist, penalizing conservative speech. Then when she started running for president, she lied about smoking marijuana in college — telling lies to pander to the Democratic base. Even the story she tells on busing is misleading.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.