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4 Feb, 2020 22:51

‘Why are you voting for Putin?’ Tulsi Gabbard supporters harassed at Iowa caucuses

‘Why are you voting for Putin?’ Tulsi Gabbard supporters harassed at Iowa caucuses

A Tulsi Gabbard supporter was physically attacked with a Sharpie marker and called a Russian terrorist after voicing support for the candidate at an Iowa caucus, one of several reports of Gabbard supporters being “abused.”

Caucusing for the Hawaii congresswoman can be hazardous to one’s health, if reports from Monday’s botched vote in Iowa are any indication. Journalist Dack Rouleau accidentally triggered a supporter of billionaire candidate Tom Steyer into a full-on Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation culminating in physical attack when he casually mentioned that he would be voting for Gabbard.

Why are you voting for Putin? He’s not a big democracy guy,” the man, who Rouleau claims worked for Iowa state government in some capacity and gave a speech on Steyer's behalf, sneered, channeling former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with his declaration that Gabbard was “Putin’s prostitute.” And Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, whom the candidate has said she would pardon if elected? “He’s one of Putin’s buddies too.” When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a sickle…

The pair initially parted ways before coming to blows - until the Steyer supporter returned to confront Rouleau armed with a Sharpie, pointing at a tattoo of German text on the journalist’s arm. “You came here from Russia! You have Russian tattoos!” he shouted triumphantly. As Rouleau vainly attempted to explain the difference between Roman and Cyrillic alphabets, his adversary threatened to “give [him] another Russian tattoo” and, Rouleau said, “dragged” the marker on his hands.

While the lonely Gabbard voters of the Windsor Heights 3 precinct ended up joining the faction supporting Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, theirs was not the only caucus where Gabbard supporters reported hostility, and at least one claimed to have walked out rather than put up with the abuse.

The phenomenon was apparently common enough that Sanders supporters suggested taking advantage of it.

The antipathy toward Gabbard from the Democratic establishment has been palpable. CNN excluded her from a series of town halls it scheduled in advance of the New Hampshire primary while including several candidates with markedly lower poll numbers, and some Gabbard supporters reported disinformation circulating aimed at conning voters into supporting other candidates.

Meanwhile, snide comments on social media have never really stopped ever since Gabbard torpedoed California Senator Kamala Harris’ chances at the nomination by exposing her abysmal record on live TV at the first primary debate. The Hawaii congresswoman’s decision to file a defamation suit against Clinton for calling her a Russian asset merely cemented the loathing of the party’s centrist faction.

The Iowa caucuses, typically one of the most important votes of primary season, ended in chaos instead of a decisive tally as an app that was meant to be used to report results malfunctioned at the key moment. As of Tuesday afternoon, the votes are still being counted and conspiracy theories based on the app’s extensive links to both Clinton and South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg are swirling. Apparently, the party doesn’t need foreign election meddling to "break" democracy after all. 

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