Tulsi Gabbard Surges in the First Democrat Debate 2020

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Tulsi Gabbard Wins Most Searched Candidate of the Night.

The first 2020 Democrat debate produced few surprises. One big surprise, however, erupted after the debate when Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) was declared the winner in The Drudge Report’s online poll. Gabbard received 38% of the “Winner” votes, which more than tripled top-tier candidate Elizabeth Warren’s 12%. For perspective, hours before the debate RealClearPolitics gave Warren a 12.8% chance of becoming the nominee and Gabbard a minuscule 0.8%. Team Gabbard soon got more good news.

Google Trends, which one should assume is as unbiased as their search results, said Gabbard led debate related search traffic. Does that indicate a surging Gabbard candidacy? Hardly. More likely viewers just wanted to learn more about Gabbard. Another theory is they were doing image searches, which produces 13 million results in 55 seconds. Gabbard searches were widespread as well. She led debate related searches in 34 states, Booker followed with 15 states while Warren led in her home state of OK.


Gabbard had minimal speaking time, (6.5 minutes), during the debate. Her search traffic spiked up when she corrected Tim Ryan (D-OH). When Ryan mistakenly connected the Taliban to the 9/11 WTC attacks Gabbard pounced, telling Ryan that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, not the Taliban. Gabbard’s largest search numbers came during her closing arguments when she praised “all immigrants” for their contributions supported health care for all and cheered “the new green economy.” So who is Tulsi Gabbard?

Tulsi Gabbard Progressive on Key Issues

Mitt Romney is often called a “RINO,” (Republican In Name Only). Mitt earned the disparaging moniker largely by flip-flopping on core Republican positions. There is broad evidence that Tulsi Gabbard is the Democrat’s version of Mitt Romney. Is a “DINO” a real thing? The list of times she changed her mind or “evolved,” as she likes to say, on core issues is extensive and the ire she’s attracted is significant.

Gabbard votes 90%-95% with Democrat majorities but breaks ranks at odd times. She stood alone in questioning Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, involvement in the chemical weapons attacks on his own people. Gabbard’s skepticism was so far out of touch that prominent Democrats were repulsed. Democrat firebrand Howard Dean roared in protest, “This is a disgrace…Gabbard should not be in Congress.”

Online publisher Medium, launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, has numerous articles posted by progressives critical of Gabbard’s policy shifts. Pplswar (“people’s war”?) called Gabbard a “lying flip-flopper.” Posting a Gabbard tweet where she claimed to have “long called for a special prosecutor,” pplswar noted that had Gabbard called for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump and Russian collusion it would be posted on her position website. It’s a legitimate claim.

Democrat National Committee Vice Chairman

Gabbard was elected Vice Chairman of the Democrat National Committee in January, 2013. In a surprise move she resigned three years later to endorse Clinton foe, and self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders. Later that year she supported controversial Keith Ellison for DNC Chairman. Ellison would lose that election amid turmoil over his past statements, assault claims and his cozy relationships with anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan and the suspect Nation of Islam.

Gabbard is frequently criticized for her many appearances on Fox News and her flip-flopping on PAC money. Seems she took $1.3M from PAC’s prior to denouncing PAC’s as big-money special interests. Most egregious to the left, however, is her 2002 campaign ad saying same sex marriage advocates were, “a small number of homosexual extremists.” In 2012 she retracted that position and said she supported the LGBTQ community but the damage lingers.

Gabbard’s credentials as a progressive are questionable. Gabbard’s personal appeal and communication skills are not. She is calm and confident in interviews. The camera loves her and her engaging smile. Those same qualities propelled Barrack Obama into the White House. Time will tell if Gabbard is an independent voice or, like Obama, a radical progressive in disguise.

Author Profile

Steve Hartkopf
Steve Hartkopf
Steve Hartkopf is a writer for NRN, a retired executive, a political commentator, and the author of two books. Married to the same wonderful woman for 40 years, Hartkopf is happily playing with and learning from five glorious grandchildren.