RAYMOND, N.H. -- Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard was asked during a campaign appearance whether she would meet with National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre like she did Syrian President Bashar Assad. She says she's open to the idea.
The question came from a lifetime NRA member in New Hampshire on Wednesday as many of her 2020 rivals convened in Las Vegas for a forum on gun policy. Gabbard replied, “Just as with our foreign policy, we have to be willing to meet with leaders and whoever they may be, adversaries or dictators or otherwise, because the only alternative to diplomacy is war.” The Hawaii congresswoman has been criticized for her 2017 meeting in Syria with Assad, whose government has been accused of chemical weapons attacks against its own citizens. Meanwhile, Gabbard qualified for the fourth Democratic presidential debate along with 11 others.
The debate will be held Oct. 15 at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and is being hosted by CNN and The New York Times.
The qualifying candidates besides Gabbard are former Vice President Joe Biden; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Obama housing secretary Julián Castro; California Sen. Kamala Harris; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; activist Tom Steyer; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
Sanders’ status, however, isn’t immediately clear. The senator’s campaign said Wednesday that he had a heart procedure for a blocked artery and has canceled events and appearances “until further notice.”