Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to Buttigieg: ‘You Would Lack the Courage to Meet with Both Adversaries and Friends’

By Melanie Arter | November 21, 2019 | 11:22am EST
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

( – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) criticized South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg for comments he made about sending troops to Mexico to fight drug cartels, saying his comment speaks to the “inexperience” he has in national security and foreign policy.

Buttigieg disputed Gabbard’s accusation, saying he was talking about U.S.-Mexico cooperation, specifically security cooperation.

“Pete, you'll agree that the service that we both have provided to our country as veterans by itself does not qualify us to serve as commander in chief. The most recent example of your inexperience in national security and foreign policy came from your recent careless statement about how you as president would be willing to send our troops to Mexico to fight the cartels,” Gabbard said.

“As commander in chief, leader of our armed forces, I bring extensive experience serving for seven years in Congress, on the foreign affairs committee, on the armed services committee, on the homeland security committee, meeting with leaders of countries around the world, working with military commanders of different commands, dealing with high-level national security briefings, understanding what's necessary, the preparation that I've gotten to walk in on day one to serve as commander in chief,” she said.

“I know that it's par for the course in Washington to take remarks out of context, but that is outlandish even by the standards of today's politics,” Buttigieg said.

“Are you saying you that didn't say that?” Gabbard asked.

“I was talking about U.S.-Mexico cooperation. We've been doing security cooperation with Mexico for years, with law enforcement cooperation and a military relationship that could continue to be developed with training relationships, for example. Do you seriously think anybody on this stage is proposing invading Mexico?” Buttiegieg asked.

“I'm talking about building up alliances, and if your question is about experience, let's also talk about judgment. One of the foreign leaders you mentioned meeting was Bashar Al Assad. I have in my experience such as it is, whether you think it counts or not since it wasn't accumulated in Washington, enough judgment that I would not have sat down with a murderous dictator like that,” he said.

Gabbard responded, saying that Buttigieg was asked directly about whether he would send U.S. troops to Mexico to fight the cartels, and he answered in the affirmative. Furthermore, she said that Buttigieg’s criticism of her for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad shows that the mayor lacks “the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends.”

“You were asked directly whether you would send our troops to Mexico to fight cartels, and your answer was yes. The fact checkers can check this out, but your point about judgment is absolutely correct,” she said.

“Our commander-in-chief does need to have good judgment, and what you've just pointed out is that you would lack the courage to meet with both adversaries and friends, to ensure the peace and national security of our nation. I take the example of those leaders who have come before us, leaders like JFK who met with khrushchev, like Roosevelt who met with Stalin,” Gabbard said. 

“Like Donald Trump who met with Kim,” Buttigieg interjected, which prompted laughter from the audience.

“Like Reagan who met and worked with Gorbachev. These issues of national security are incredibly important. I will meet with and do what is necessary to make sure that no more of our brothers and sisters in uniform are needlessly sent into harm's way fighting regime change wars that undermine our national security. I'll bring real leadership and experience to the White House,” Gabbard continued. 


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