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Clinton Backs Out of Potential Face-to-Face with Gabbard After Rep.’s Cutthroat Tweet

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Hillary Clinton apparently has a scheduling conflict that prevents her from attending Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington this week.

It’s just a coincidence this “scheduling conflict” allows Clinton to dodge the chance she will come face to face with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

According to the New York Post, Clinton was a last-minute scratch from the three-day event, which is scheduled for Monday to Wednesday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

While Clinton apparently justified it by telling friends her recusal had to do with former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speaking, Nielsen’s participation wasn’t exactly a last-minute decision.

A petition opposing Nielsen’s participation had been circulating since at least Tuesday, when it had 40,000 signatures, according to Newsweek. Yet Clinton’s name and photo weren’t removed from the event’s website until Friday, according to Townhall.

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The timing is telling.

During an appearance Thursday on “Campaign HQ,” a podcast hosted by former Obama aide David Plouffe, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee floated a theory that a certain candidate in the 2020 Democratic field was essentially a pawn of the Kremlin.

“I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, according to Fox News.

“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Do you think Hillary Clinton ducked this event because of Tulsi Gabbard?

It was pretty obvious whom she was referring to.

Earlier in the week, Lisa Lerer of The New York Times claimed Rep. Gabbard was receiving undue attention from Russian state media and its botnets on Twitter.

Lerer also noted that the Hawaii congresswoman had received positive attention from fringe figures like white nationalists David Duke and Richard Spencer. She’s also received positive attention from the right — and, Lerer claimed, from the Kremlin — for her anti-interventionist views, including in Syria.

Lerer’s piece made it clear that there was “no evidence of coordination between these [Russian] networks and the campaign itself.” Furthermore, as Reason noted, the article relies on a debunked theory that the hashtag #KamalaHarrisDestroyed — referring to Gabbard’s famous takedown of the California senator during the second round of Democratic debates — had been amplified by Russian botnets on Twitter.

As for Russian state media attention, Reason’s Christian Britschgi may have put it best: “So a candidate focused on criticizing U.S. foreign policy is getting mentioned about once every four days by outlets that also spend a lot of time criticizing U.S. foreign policy. This strikes me as falling short of a full-blown influence operation. The fact that Gabbard is polling poorly despite all that coverage from RT and Sputnik suggests this is, at worst, a rather ineffectual conspiracy to disrupt and divide Democrats.”

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In an unfortunate game of telephone, then, a Times article that relied on a disproven theory was regurgitated by Clinton with additional claims of “grooming” and a third-party candidacy.

(This would be interesting indeed, considering the fact that Gabbard hasn’t been able to break 2 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average and has only broken that number in a handful of individual polls.)

Gabbard hit back Friday in three brutal tweets.

“Great!Thank you @HillaryClinton,” Gabbard wrote.

“You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain.

“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why,” she continued. “Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

Well, if Gabbard really wants Donald Trump to win, the safest way would be for Hillary Clinton to join the field. As it stands, it doesn’t look like she’s even going to be in the same room as Gabbard anytime during the next 12 months. (But this cancellation was all about Kirstjen Nielsen. Cough cough.)

If Hillary Clinton wants to divide the Democrats, what she can keep on doing is trashing a candidate who’s clearly outside of the party mainstream but seems to have roughly zero percent chance of winning.

This is somewhat similar to the freak-out some Republicans had over Ron Paul during his 2008 and 2012 runs — although, to be fair, these freak-outs seem charmingly limited compared to Clinton’s and didn’t involve calling Ron Paul the stooge of one of our greatest adversaries using disproven claims.

Also, it’s pretty clear what the context behind Clinton’s remarks was: The former candidate still can’t let go of the idea that the Kremlin cost her the 2016 election.

Underneath every political rock, she sees ants scurrying away carrying the Russian tricolor. Apparently Vladimir Putin prevented her from campaigning in states like Michigan and Wisconsin or something.

Now, Tulsi’s going to be the Jill Stein of 2020 — despite any evidence that she’ll mount a third-party campaign.

Clinton’s remained silent about her remarks, only advertising the Plouffe sit-down by retweeting his link to the interview, which didn’t include any mention of Gabbard. There was also no announcement that she was pulling out of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. (Clinton had been scheduled to speak Tuesday afternoon. Gabbard’s on-stage interview is set for Tuesday night, according to the event’s agenda.)

I did find this tweet she wrote Wednesday in support of those testifying against Donald Trump to be strangely ironic, though:

Speaking of gutsy women, you aren’t one of them.

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