CNN's Camerota Hounds Rep. Gabbard Over Sanders Endorsement

On Monday's New Day, CNN's Alisyn Camerota badgered Rep. Tulsi Gabbard over her recent endorsement of Bernie Sanders. Camerota wondered, "Why endorse Bernie Sanders now — when, frankly, it feels as though the momentum, after South Carolina, has shifted away from him and towards Hillary Clinton?" She also touted Hillary Clinton's apparent foreign policy credentials: "Who knows more about foreign policy than the former secretary of state?" The anchor later hounded the Hawaii Democrat over Senator Sanders's policy regarding ISIS. [video below]

Camerota led the interview with her question about the momentum in the Democratic presidential race. Rep. Gabbard replied, in part, by emphasizing that "the most important job of our president, in my view, is their job as commander-in-chief....We need a commander-in-chief who will exercise good judgment and foresight, and stop getting us into these interventionist regime change wars, as we have seen in Iraq; as we've seen in Libya; and as we're seeing now occurring in Syria."

When the CNN anchor followed up with her "who knows more" statement about Mrs. Clinton, the former DNC vice chair contended that "the important question here is a question of experience versus judgment....who will exercise good judgment?...And I'm confident that with Bernie Sanders, he will not take us into these interventionist regime change wars that have cost our country so dearly in American lives and treasure."

Camerota then targeted Senator Sanders on the issue of ISIS: "What is his answer for fighting ISIS?" Gabbard claimed that the Vermont socialist has "been very clear about coming out strongly and fighting ISIS and fighting al Qaeda." The journalist interrupted her guest and asked, "Yes, but — I mean, with troops — how? How to fight ISIS — if not ground troops, more aerial war?" The Iraq War veteran underlined that "we need to work with Kurdish...ground groups there. We need to deploy our special forces...to be able to conduct these missions. And, of course, support these efforts with our — our air strikes." She added that "where there is a great contrast between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, is whether or not to continue this counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of [Bashar] Assad — which is strengthening ISIS and al Qaeda and those who threaten the United States."

The full transcript of Alisyn Camerota's interview of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from the February 29, 2016 edition of CNN's New Day:

REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D), HAWAII: As a vice chair of the DNC, I am required to stay neutral in Democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high. That's why today, I'm endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders to be our next president and commander-in-chief of the United States.

[CNN Graphic: "Rep. Gabbard Quits DNC Post, Endorses Sanders"]

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard stepping down from a top post with the DNC in order to endorse Bernie Sanders. And Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joins us now to explain. She is also an Iraq War veteran. Congresswoman, thanks so much for being on New Day.

GABBARD: Good morning, Alisyn. Aloha.

CAMEROTA: So why be — why endorse Bernie Sanders now — when, frankly, it feels as though the momentum, after South Carolina, has shifted away from him and towards Hillary Clinton?

[CNN Graphic: "Rep. Tusli Gabbard Endorses Bernie Sanders"]

GABBARD: Alisyn, the most important job of our president, in my view, is their job as commander-in-chief. And I can tell you, as a soldier and as a veteran and — and what I hear from military families across the country, is how real war is. This is something that has a very real cost — and I've seen it firsthand in my first deployment to Iraq, where I served in a medical unit — and I hear about it almost every day from our veterans who've come home, and who suffer from these invisible wounds.

We need a commander-in-chief who will exercise good judgment and foresight, and stop getting us into these interventionist regime change wars, as we have seen in Iraq; as we've seen in Libya; and as we're seeing now occurring in Syria. The stakes are very high, and the contrast is very clear between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on these issues.

You know, with Hillary, we've seen not only was she a champion for the Iraq War, she was the architect for the war in Libya to overthrow Gadhafi — which we've seen has resulted in — in tremendous loss of life and chaos; and now, with ISIS and al Qaeda having a stronghold in that country. And now, she's continues to push for the same kind of regime change in Syria, with an escalation by — by putting a so-called no-fly zone in place that puts us directly at odds with Russia. With Bernie Sanders, we see a very different — and he opposed the Iraq War, and has come out in opposition to this no-fly zone in Syria.

[CNN Graphic: "Gabbard: 'Stakes Are Too High' To Not Endorse Sanders"]

CAMEROTA: Yeah. But — but who knows more about foreign policy than the former secretary of state?

GABBARD: I'm glad you asked — and that's the important question here — is a question of experience versus judgment. You know, we could look to a lot of different places. We could look to Dick Cheney if we want to look for experience in foreign policy. But to me, the real question is judgment. And as a soldier, that's what I look for in my next commander-in-chief — is who will exercise good judgment? Who will exercise foresight in looking to see when should we use America's military power; and, just as importantly, when should we not use that power?

And I'm confident that with Bernie Sanders, he will not take us into these interventionist regime change wars that have cost our country so dearly in American lives and treasure — and once you speak of the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been lost across the Middle East.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. But then, what is his answer for fighting ISIS?

GABBARD: He's been very clear about coming out strongly and fighting ISIS and fighting al Qaeda, and his commitment to continue doing that. This isn't a question of — of being an isolationist. Of course, we should continue to be very strong in this fight against those who threaten the American people — who threaten the safety and security of the American people—

CAMEROTA: Yes, but — I mean, with troops — how? How — how to fight ISIS — if not ground troops, more aerial war?

GABBARD: Whether we look at Syria; if we look at Libya; if we look at Iraq, we're going to see different strategies in these different places. I've been very vocal about saying we need to work with Kurdish — we need to work with ground groups there. We need to deploy our special forces — quick insert and quick exit — to be able to conduct these missions. And, of course, support these efforts with our — our air strikes.

But the issue with Syria here, and where there is a great contrast between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, is whether or not to continue this counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government of [Bashar] Assad — which is strengthening ISIS and al Qaeda and those who threaten the United States — and is also worsening the humanitarian crisis on the ground. And the difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on this issue, as an example, speaks directly to the difference in judgment — and that's the critical key here — with this critical point here with this election.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly: we mentioned that you had to leave your post at the DNC in order to endorse Bernie Sanders. Did any part — how much of a role did any tension with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the DNC, play in your decision?

[CNN Graphic: "Why Did Rep. Gabbard Step Down From DNC Post?"]

GABBARD: Not at all. Look, this is — this is not about politics. As I said, this is about the very high stakes that exist in this election. I couldn't stand on the sidelines any longer. I've been talking about these issues. But I felt necessary — to make sure as people are heading to the — the polls tomorrow and in the coming weeks that they are informed about who our next commander-in-chief could be — what kind of judgment they exercise — and you can tell what a person will do in the future by their record and what they've done in the past. And I think it's important for the American people to know that as they go to select who our Democratic nominee for president will be.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, thanks so much for being on New Day.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center