Tulsi Gabbard on Hillary Clinton: ‘This Is Not a Personal Spat Between Two Women’

Fresh off of her headline-making appearance on “The View,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) headed straight to Variety’s Salute to Service luncheon presented by History,where she was honored, alongside other servicepeople and media figures who support veterans’ causes.

Before the luncheon, Gabbard spoke to Variety about the biggest issues facing the military, and why she believes her service positions her to be a strong candidate. During the wide-ranging interview, Gabbard also spoke about how she wants to rebuild the Democratic party, whether America is ready to elect a female president, her thoughts on Beto O’Rourke dropping out of the presidential race and the significance of Hillary Clinton suggesting that Russians were “grooming” her to be a third-party candidate.

“This is not a personal spat between two people or two women,” Gabbard told Variety when asked what she’s learned from her public tiff with Clinton, specifically as a woman in politics. “There’s a much bigger issue that’s being raised here, really about our foreign policy and the contrast of the Hillary Clinton legacy of foreign policy, which is very focused on interventionism, going around the world, being the world’s police, toppling dictators we don’t like, starting these regime-change wars. … Contrasting that with the foreign policy leadership that I seek to bring that would end this long-held regime-change war policy, work to end this new Cold War and arms race, and instead, lead with a foreign policy that’s focused on cooperation, rather than conflict; truly being that force for good in the world that the United States of America can and should be.”

Asked what she has to say to those who question whether she is going to stay in the Democratic race, Gabbard shot down, once again, any theories of her running a third-party campaign.

“Listen to what I’m saying. I mean what I say, and I say what I mean. The answer is no. I am not running a third-party candidate. I’m running to be the Democratic nominee because I’m the best candidate to defeat Trump,” she firmly stated.

Gabbard detailed how she wants to build a new Democratic party, if she were the candidate.

“As the leader of the Democratic party, would usher in, would rebuild a new Democratic party, and provide new leadership for our country that takes it away from the hands of the very few rich and powerful, and the war-mongers … and actually have a party that serves the interest of the people, that fights for peace, that works to protect our planet,” she said. “This is the kind of the Democratic party that we need and that I look forward to leading.”

Gabbard believes the country is ready to elect a female president. She says thanks to her campaigning and seeing unity around the country, she feels hopeful.

“I really do,” she said when asked if America is ready to elect a woman in office. “And it’s because of the people that I’m connecting with in states like New Hampshire and Iowa and South Carolina. The states across the country that we’re seeing a coming-together, a coalition building amongst Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, people of different races, ethnicities, religions, joining our campaign, resonating with the message of unifying our country, the leadership that will actually put the interest of people ahead of politics, ahead of profits, put the interest of the American people at the forefront of our leadership.”

“I am inspired and I am hopeful,” Gabbard continued, speaking of the unity she’s seen while she’s been campaigning. “And frankly, it’s this kind of coalition that’s necessary to defeat Donald Trump so that we can begin that wonderful path forward together toward a better and brighter future for everybody.”

As for the other candidates, Gabbard says she is not thinking of the competition, and repeated that she believes she is the most qualified to serve the country because of her understanding of national security and foreign policy. But she did reflect on her friend O’Rourke dropping out of the race.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard throughout her political career
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard throughout her political career
US Democratic Representative from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard speaks during a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) on 'The Plight of Religious Minorities in India' on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 4, 2014. Several US lawmakers voiced concern for the future of religious minorities in India in a hearing that critics denounced as an attempt to influence upcoming elections. With polls starting April 7 in the world's largest democracy, several activists testifying before the US Congress' human rights commission expressed fear for the treatment of Muslims and Christians if Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi becomes the next prime minister, as surveys predict. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
First Hindu Congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, speaks at the unveiling ceremony of life-size statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Secaucus, NJ on May 31, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 25: Davan Gabbard (L), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (C) and Emily Tisch Sussman attend ELLE's annual Women in Washington Power List dinner hosted by Robbie Myers, ELLE Editor-in-Chief, with Gucci at Villa Firenze, the home of the Italian Ambassador, on March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Elle)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington D.C., Sunday, March 10, 2013. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, attends news conference with democratic freshmen members-elect, in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, talks with Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC, before the Congressional Women's Softball game that pits Congresswomen against female journalists at Watkins Recreation Center on Capitol Hill. The reporters prevailed in a 11-8 victory. The game benefits the Young Survival Coalition that helps young women with breast cancer. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEB. 01, 2012: Tulsi Gabbard interviewed at Roll Call in Washington D.C. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call Photos)
UNITED STATES - JULY 26: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, nominates Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark)
US Representative Tulsi Gabbard speaks during Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 26, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, greets Celestino Almeda, a veteran reprinting the Philippine Commonwealth Army, during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Emancipation Hall to honor Filipino veterans of World War II on October 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 25: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, attends a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Emancipation Hall to honor Filipino veterans of World War II on October 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 06: Tulsi Gabbard speaks at Bernie Sanders 'A future to believe in San Francisco GOTV Concert' at Crissy Field San Francisco on June 6, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Brian Mast, R-Fla., conduct a news conference in Rayburn Building on the Burn Pits Accountability Act, which evaluates the 'exposure of U.S. service members and veterans to open burn pits and toxic airborne chemicals,' on May 17, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 05: Abraham Williams (L) and Tulsi Gabbard attend the Sean Penn CORE Gala benefiting the organization formerly known as J/P HRO & its life-saving work across Haiti & the world at The Wiltern on January 5, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for CORE, formerly J/P HRO )

“He’s a good friend. We got elected to Congress together back in 2012,” she said of O’Rourke. “I’m grateful for the passion that he brought to the race. I know him, and I know that he will find a way to continue to contribute and contribute to serve.”

Gabbard spoke to Variety at length about the biggest issues facing the military heading into 2020, given the premise of the Salute to Service luncheon, which was held at Cipriani Broadway in downtown Manhattan.

“They’re treated like crap,” Gabbard said about veterans. “Our leaders need to stop just paying lip service to our veterans, but actually do the work necessary that our veterans are taken care of.”

Gabbard said her experience serving is what motivated her to go to Congress and “be in a position where I could make decisions about our country’s national security and the issue of war and peace, and frankly, that’s why I’m running for president now, to be able to continue that commitment of protecting the safety, security and freedom of every American.”

Gabbard was honored alongside “The View’s” Meghan McCain; CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell; star of the CBS series “SEAL Team,” David Boreanaz; “Blue Bloods” actor Donnie Wahlberg; Lou Diamond Phillips; Dexter Goei, chief executive officer of the telecommunications company Altice USA; and three-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, who received an award from the USO. Now in its third annual year, Salute to Service was launched by Penske Media Corporation vice chairman and board member Gerry Byrne, a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran.

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