Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted "present" during the House's votes on two articles of impeachment against President Trump earlier this month. And her fellow Democrats aren't letting her forget it. She's the new "most disliked candidate" in the 2020 Democratic primary, according to Morning Consult polling.
Former Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie even demanded her resignation.
“I feel very strongly the 2nd District of Hawaii must be fully represented,” he said earlier this week. He added that Gabbard has also been MIA on several other appropriations bills and that her presidential campaign is superseding her responsibilities to The Aloha State.
Gabbard's office defended her priorities.
“Hawaii is Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s home and her heart,” Ilihia Gionson, Gabbard’s Hawaii Island communications director, wrote to The Honolulu Civics Beat. “Her pursuit of the highest office in the land has not compromised her and her team’s commitment to serving the people of Hawaii in her fourth term in Congress.”
As for that controversial "present" vote, Gabbard explained it all in a statement. While she believes Trump "violated public trust," she could not in good conscience vote for impeachment in such a divisive environment.
"I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country," she explained. "When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been."
She then cited the "extreme rhetoric" on both sides of the aisle. The Democrats, she observed, insist that "if we do not impeach, our country will collapse into dictatorship. All but explicitly, they accuse him of treason."
Gabbard joined Republicans in sounding off on the closed-doors tactics employed by House leaders like Adam Schiff (D-CA) during this fall's impeachment inquiry.
"I think it needs to be a transparent process," she said in October. "I have long expressed my concern about going through impeachment proceedings in a very, very partisan way because it will only tear apart an already divided country."
Gabbard's poor showing in that Morning Consult poll could also be due to her feud with former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Clinton called her a Russian agent, so Gabbard fought back - hard. In a series of video responses, Gabbard called Clinton an elitist and told her to “step down from your throne.”
The Hawaii congresswoman did not qualify for the last debate of 2019, and she's yet to be determined for the January debates.