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'Pro-Assad' Tulsi Gabbard drops out of US presidential race

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has now endorsed Joe Biden [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 March, 2020

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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who was viewed as an unlikely candidate due to her divisive views on American foreign policy, has dropped out of the democratic presidential nomination race.
US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard dropped out of the Democratic presidential nomination race Thursday and immediately endorsed rival Joe Biden as flag bearer heading into the November election against President Donald Trump.

"Today, I'm suspending my presidential campaign and offering my full support to vice president Joe Biden in his quest to bring our country together," the lawmaker from Hawaii said in an online video message.

"Although I may not agree with the vice president on every issue, I know that he has a good heart, and he is motivated by his love for our country and the American people."

Her move leaves frontrunner Biden and leftist Senator Bernie Sanders as the final two candidates in the Democratic race. 

Gabbard's endorsement comes as somewhat of a surprise, given that she was a fierce supporter of Sanders in 2016 and supports his Medicare for All plan for a government health system to cover every American.

But Sanders is under mounting pressure to drop out after performing poorly in several recent primaries including three states swept by Biden this week.

"After Tuesday's election, it's clear that Democratic primary voters have chosen vice president Joe Biden to be the person who will take on President Trump in the general election," Gabbard said. 

Gabbard, 38, was never a serious factor in the nomination battle. But she made the debate stage a few times in 2019 and used the opportunities to highlight US military engagement abroad.

The Hawaii Representative was criticised for calling the eight-year-long civil war in Syria an attempt by Washington at "regime change" during October's Democratic primary debate.

Gabbard, who has gained notoriety for her perceived sympathy for Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad, declared: "The slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war that we've been waging in Syria."

"Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties," the Iraq War veteran added.

Gabbard's stance on Syria had been a focal point of her campaign, which otherwise consisted of socialist-inspired domestic policies such as Medicare for all and abortion rights.

Gabbard secretly met with Assad in 2017, as the Syrian regime launched bloody offensives on opposition areas killing thousands of civilians.

She also once declared that the US should not oppose Russian bombing of "al-Nusra", a former al-Qaeda affiliate. Russian airstrikes have also killed thousands of Syrian civilians.

She has strongly opposed US intervention in Syria and expressed scepticism that the regime was responsible for chemical attacks on opposition areas, which led to American airstrikes.

Fellow Democrats have slammed Gabbard as "a disgrace" for her views on Syria and said she is unfit for Congress.

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