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Tulsi Gabbard will interrupt presidential campaign for National Guard duty

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, at a Capitol Hill news conference in July, 2018.

STARS AND STRIPES

By SOPHIE COCKE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: August 7, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will be in Indonesia for two weeks for National Guard training, ABC News reported, disrupting her campaign for the presidency at a time when Gabbard is trying to qualify for the third Democratic primary debates in September.

Neither Gabbard’s presidential campaign nor her congressional office responded to questions from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser seeking the dates of her training. Gabbard was at a campaign event in New York City on Tuesday and has events scheduled in Portsmouth, N.H., and Nashville, Tenn., this week.

Gabbard also will squeeze in a visit to the Iowa State Fair before she leaves later this week, a campaign spokesman told the Washington Examiner on Tuesday.

Gabbard, who is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard and an Iraq war veteran, said that her campaign will continue in her absence.

“We’ve got a strong people-­powered campaign, and so we’re working on making sure that our folks are out and they’re continuing to go to the fairs and the town halls and sharing our message as I will be stepping away from the campaign for two weeks to fulfill my duty to the Army National Guard,” she told ABC.

Last week Gabbard surpassed the threshold of 130,000 individual donors needed to make the September debate in Houston.

However, she still needs to achieve at least 2% in three polls approved by the Democratic National Committee by Aug. 28. So far, she’s met that threshold in only one qualifying poll.

Public interest in Gabbard seemed to soar following the July 31 debate in which she delivered a blistering attack on California Sen. Kama­la Harris’ criminal justice record and universal health care policy. She became the most searched Democratic presidential candidate on Google. But that interest doesn’t seem to be translating to increased popularity in the polls.

Polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and Morning Consult following the debate had Gabbard, which she has averaged throughout the campaign.

Gabbard’s debate performance, while not boosting her own standing, may have hurt Harris who, according to polls, lost ground in the race following the debate.

Gabbard’s campaign Monday sent out an email to supporters listing ways they could increase their chances of being selected to participate in a debate qualifying poll, such as signing up for YouGov and taking a few surveys with them and answering phone calls from unknown numbers, as it could be a pollster.

“So whenever you’re asked to take a poll, take it,” according to the email. “We have thousands of supporters in every state — if only a handful of us are selected for a poll, it can make the difference.”

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