Gabbard's Campaign in 'Disarray'

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard / Getty
January 30, 2019

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's (D., Hawaii) presidential campaign is in "disarray," according to a new report, despite the fact it has not officially launched. Gabbard's staff was unaware she was going to announce her candidacy earlier this month during an interview on CNN, Politico reports.

The Hawaii Democrat has faced criticism in her home state over a dispute with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), and her campaign manager is set to leave after the campaign officially kicks off this weekend. Gabbard's sister, Vrindavan, is expected to take on some of the burden after campaign manager Rania Batrice and consulting firm Revolution Messaging depart the campaign.

Batrice served as Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) deputy campaign manager in 2016.

Gabbard is also facing a Democratic primary challenger in the race for her House seat, meaning she could potentially lose her spot in Congress.

Despite the apparent disorder, Gabbard's campaign says everything is under control.

"Rania Batrice is a longtime adviser and friend and remains so," Erika Tsuji, a campaign spokeswoman, said. She also said the consulting firm intended to stay only for the launch of the campaign.

Batrice said "it’s been an honor to work with [Gabbard] over the last few years. I wish her all the best as she mounts her historic campaign."

Gabbard is a candidate who has "managed to be both indecisive and impulsive," according to three people familiar with the presidential bid who spoke to Politico.

At first, Gabbard had vendors and staffers working through Thanksgiving weekend to get ready for a campaign rollout, only to pull back. Over the next several weeks, Gabbard went up to the starting line again — signaling to her team that a green light was imminent — only to make repeated retreats.

The pattern of false starts continued through Christmas and New Year's, frustrating people who worked through the holidays.

When Gabbard did finally announce she would make a 2020 run, her team was blindsided.

When Gabbard made the announcement on CNN's "The Van Jones Show," her campaign website was not ready and she had not given final approval to her launch video. Almost two weeks after the CNN announcement, Gabbard released the video. She is planning a rally to launch her presidential bid in Honolulu on Saturday.

The editorial board of Hawaii's largest newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, criticized Gabbard's candidacy, and the left-wing Daily Kos endorsed her primary opponent in her House race. She also had to apologize for past comments and work opposing gay marriage.

Gabbard's support of Sanders in 2016 also does not appear to be helping her campaign.

Tim Vandeveer, a former Democratic state party chairman who supported Sanders in 2016, said he has "yet to talk to a single Bernie Sanders supporter ... who is supporting Tulsi over Bernie."