Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has become the “most disliked” Democratic presidential candidate ahead of the 2020 election, after she broke with House Democrats last week on articles of impeachment accusing President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and instead voted “present.”
A week prior to the impeachment vote, Gabbard’s unfavorability rating stood at 23 percent, according to a Morning Consult survey. However, just days after her “present” vote, that figure climbed to 30 percent, making her the field’s “most disliked candidate,” Newsweek reported.
In a statement, Gabbard said that while she believes Trump is “guilty of wrongdoing,” she could not “in good conscience” vote against impeachment.
“I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country,” Gabbard said.
My ‘present’ vote was an active protest against the zero-sum game the two opposing political sides have trapped America in. My vote and campaign is about freeing our country from this damaging mindset so we can work side-by-side to usher in a bright future for all #StandWithTulsi pic.twitter.com/nmhEL5bi4Q
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 19, 2019
“When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.”
The president was impeached on two charges: the abuse of power article was approved 230-197-1, while the obstruction of Congress article passed 229-198-1.
Two Democrats—Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota—broke ranks with their party to vote no on the first article of impeachment, while Van Drew, Peterson, and Rep. Jared Golden of Maine voted against the second article. Van Drew has since switched to join the Republican Party.
According to Morning Consult data, an estimated 85 percent of registered Democrats support ousting Trump; a similar number are hoping for a conviction in a 2020 Senate trial.
A supermajority vote by two-thirds of the Senate (67 votes) is required to convict and remove the president, meaning 20 Republicans would need to get on board. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and have been largely unified in opposition to impeaching Trump, who wields a 95 percent approval rating among Republican voters.
Trump last week praised Gabbard’s move to vote “present.”
In October, she said she wouldn’t run for reelection for Congress as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Throughout my life, the thought of a ‘political career’ never crossed my mind. I’ve always done my best to serve where I felt I could make the most impact,” Gabbard said in a video. “It’s this principle of service above self that has motivated the decisions I’ve made throughout my life.”
DNC Snubs Gabbard
Gabbard was noticeably absent from a new “unity” fundraising advertisement produced by the Democratic National Committee.
With less than a year until November 3, 2020, we must come together now and work towards the common goal of defeating Donald Trump and sending a Democrat to the White House.
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) December 23, 2019
Ten presidential candidates were featured in the video released Dec. 23, titled “The DNC’s Democratic Unity Fund.” However, the Hawaii Congresswoman’s notable absence has sparked criticism over the video’s message of “unity” among 2020 candidates.
It came after Trump on Dec. 20 criticized his 2016 presidential rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for alleging that Gabbard is a Russian asset.
“Then she said Tulsi Gabbard is a ‘weapon of Russia,'” Trump told reporters on Friday. “And they lost all credibility because we know Tulsi Gabbard—and I give her respect—she didn’t vote the other day. I give her a lot of respect because she knew it was wrong. She took a pass. But I don’t know. I do know one thing: she’s not an agent of Russia.”
In October, Clinton seemingly suggested that Gabbard is a “favorite of the Russians” to win the 2020 election. Also in the interview, Clinton said that Republicans had their “eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” appearing to refer to Gabbard.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her, so far,” Clinton claimed, without offering any evidence.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.