Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard crossed party lines to give the keynote address Friday night at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
Gabbard, who’s been both politically aligned with Sen. Bernie Sanders and also a frequent guest on Fox News, gave a twisty-turny speech where she raged against the ‘power elite’ and ‘their co-conspirators in the mainstream media and the security state.’
She pleased the right-leaning crowd by saying that in an ideal world ‘our leaders would haul James Clapper before a judge to answer for his lies to Congress about how the government is collecting information.’
‘And they would support the Durham investigation and Clinton corruption in 2016… ,’ she said, not even finishing her sentence before there was raucous applause.
She went after both Democrats and Republicans in Congress ‘who talk a good game about civil liberties, but when it comes time to cast that vote on things like getting rid of secret FISA courts and protecting our fourth amendment rights to privacy, they vote on the side of the power elite and against liberty.’
Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard uses air-quotes as she delivers the keynote address Friday night at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida
CROSSING THE AISLE? Former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard waves to attendees of CPAC’s annual Ronald Reagan Dinner Friday night in Orlando, Florida
That line got applause too.
She said the ideology she was up against amounted to ‘Biden-Clinton-neocon-neolib foreign policy.’
Gabbard wrapped up day two at CPAC, which was moved to Orlando last year for Florida’s more permissive COVID regulations.
The choice of the former Democratic presidential hopeful raised eyebrows, but also made sense, as she’s spent her time in Congressional retirement more on Fox’s airwaves than anywhere else in politics.
She joked about the dynamic when she came onstage.
‘I’ve gotta say, when Matt and I first spoke on the phone about me coming here, we both had a similar reaction to each other saying, “yeah, there’s gonna probably be some strong thoughts that people are going to share with both of us,”‘ Gabbard said, referencing American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp, whose organization organizes CPAC.
She said once her speaking slot was announced ‘the blue checkmarks started lining up.’
She said the ‘so-called progressives’ referred to her as a ‘traitor.’
‘Hillary was right,’ she continued. ‘Get her out of here.’
In 2019, Hillary Clinton famously suggested the Russians were ‘grooming’ Gabbard, though didn’t use the congresswoman’s name.
Gabbard had quit her post at the Democratic National Committee three years before to publicly support Sanders, who was running against Clinton, and told then DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in an email – exposed in the Wikileaks hack – that she felt the DNC was rigging the primary in favor of the more mainstream ex-secretary of state, senator and first lady.
On the CPAC stage, Gabbard said Schlapp received similar warnings from those on the right.
‘And then I started seeing the things coming out from so-called conservatives, mostly directed at Matt, and saying, “How dare you? Don’t you know she’s a Democrat? Cancel her, disinvite her or lock the doors, don’t let her in,’ Gabbard said.
She then launched into an attack of tribalism in the counry.
‘This kind of tribalism is dangerous and it’s emblematic of an erosion of a spiritual foundation in this country,’ she said. ‘It’s emblematic of this lack of recognition that we’re all God’s children, that we are one nation under God, and knowing that inspires us.’
From there, she got into the meat of her speech, which was a takedown of the so-called ‘power elite.’
‘They think free speech is something that should only be left to those who agree with them,’ Gabbard said.
‘The latest strategy and tactic that they’re using is to try to undermine our free speech by taking it upon themselves to say they’ve got the responsibility to protect us from so called misinformation,’ the former Hawaii congresswoman observed. ‘So basically, they’re saying that they are going to protect us from that which they claim is not true.’
She accused the leaders of the U.S. government of ‘working with their mouthpieces – the mainstream media and big tech – doing exactly what our founders rejected.’
Gabbard said rather than engaging in debate, detractors get smeared.
‘I’m sure you’ve all heard them before. I have. Like today,’ she said. ‘Russian asset. White supremacist. Bigot. Racist. Extremist. Traitor.’
‘But what’s even more dangerous than this threat of being canceled is the federal government wielding its power and might to punish those who dare to question or disagree with them and their policies,’ she continued.
She pointed to the wording of a DHS.gov bulletin from earlier this month entitled: ‘Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland.’ ‘The proliferation of false or misleading narratives which sow discord or undermine public trust in US government institutions,’ the document says.
‘Basically, what they’re telling us is you are an enemy of the state if you dare to oppose or even question the president, his administration on his policies, shut up, step back, fall in line, or we’re coming to you,’ she said.
She used Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s moves against the trucker protesters as an example of how something like this plays out.
Gabbard said Trudeau ‘resorted to genuinely authoritarian and tyrannical means to suppress a peaceful mass protest against the power elite.’
She then asked Ronald Reagan dinner attendees to join her in ‘an alternative universe.’
‘One where our leaders actually took their oath of office to the Constitution seriously,’ she said. ‘If we were living in this world, they would shut down secret FISA courts and stop three letter agencies like the NSA, FBI and CIA from illegally spying on Americans.’
‘They would denounce the Attorney General of the United States for his disgraceful attacks on American parents like those Loudoun County and across the country,’ she continued.
In Loudoun County, Virginia parents were demonstrating against mask-wearing and the teaching of critical race theory.
She then name-dropped Clapper and the Durham probe.
Special Counsel John Durham is investigating the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.
Connected to that is the use of FISA warrants, which former President Donald Trump and his allies have criticized as one was used to monitor Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser for the ex-president’s 2016 campaign.
After warning of these dangers, Gabbard concluded her remarks on a positive note.
‘As we look forward, we can take heart in knowing that our path will be lit by the fire of freedom that burns brightly in the hearts of Americans in every community,’ she said.
And then the Democrat walked offstage to a standing ovation.