Presidential hopeful Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) threatened to drop out of next Tuesday’s Democratic debate, claiming that the whole electoral process is rigged against her.
Gabbard, whose poll numbers have lingered around 1 percentage point since she entered the race in January, accused the Democratic National Committee and “corporate media” of “trying to hijack the election process” in a video she tweeted on Thursday.
Gabbard’s announcement cribbed much of the language Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used in 2016 when he lobbed similar accusations against the Democratic Party and the media, and Gabbard even mentioned the senator by name.
“The 2016 Democratic Primary election was rigged by the DNC and their partners in the corporate media against Bernie Sanders,” she said, before rattling off a list of vague grievances, which she claimed have her considering dropping out of next week’s debate.
The fourth-term U.S. representative accused unnamed people of using “polling and other arbitrary methods” to disempower voters in early voting states.
But Gabbard didn’t specify what, exactly, the DNC or media has done to corrupt the election process. And her following statement ― that the debates were meant to “entertain, rather than inform or enlighten” ― comes as she struggled to convince audiences that she could do either of the three.
Gabbard failed to meet the polling threshold to qualify for September’s Democratic debate, and many of her policies ― particularly in the realm of international diplomacy ― have come under fire from her fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls and members of the party.
Gabbard has previously expressed seemingly tolerant views of Bashar al-Assad, the authoritarian Syrian president. And reports detailing support she has received from pro-Russia voices online have discomforted many in the party wary of the Kremlin after Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.
On Monday, Gabbard confirmed in an email to campaign supporters that she will attend Tuesday’s debate.
“Thanks so much for your support,” she wrote. “I just want to let you know that I will be attending the debate. Aloha.”
This story has been updated to include Gabbard’s email to campaign supporters regarding Tuesday’s debate.