Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard sparked controversy within the party in 2017 when she secretly visited Syria and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who stands accused by the U.S. of using chemical weapons against his own people.
Now, Gabbard is mounting a bid for the presidency, signaling her intent to join what is likely to be nearly two dozen others in the Democratic primary.
Back in 2017, the congresswoman took criticism for returning from her visit to Syria voicing the very propaganda coming from the Syrian government: painting Assad as a benevolent leader merely fighting against terrorism and U.S. opposition to his rule as unjust.
The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin wrote:
Principled opposition to U.S. intervention in Syria is one thing. Becoming a tool of a mass murderer’s propaganda and influence campaign is another. Gabbard’s cooperation with the Syrian regime damages her effort to promote herself as a legitimate foreign policy voice.
Others have noted that Russia appears to have taken a liking to the House Democrat, with RT — considered by the U.S. a propaganda arm of the Kremlin — offering favorable coverage of Gabbard.
After having supported Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016 — and bucking the Democratic National Committee in the process — Gabbard will now attempt to woo voters to her own cause.