Former Hawaii Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard faced a barrage of bipartisan outrage last week after suggesting it was NATO expansion rather than Vladimir Putin’s naked aggression that sparked the invasion of Ukraine — but refused to back down, telling The Post her critics aren’t living “in the real world.”
Even as Putin’s tanks and troops stormed through Ukraine, Gabbard, 40, urged President Biden to meet with the ex-KBG strongman, during an exclusive interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where she was a guest speaker.
“As leaders you have to be willing to have a dialogue and conversation to address the real issues at hand,” Gabbard said. “There is always a path for diplomacy. What is the alternative? The alternative then is continued escalation.
“Putin has said for years his security concerns are about NATO increasingly approaching and surrounding Russia on all sides,” Gabbard continued. “The Biden administration has failed to outline for the American people how does this serve your best interests? What will the costs be?”
The position has earned the former congresswoman widespread ire from critics on both the left and the right.
“As recently as last week he once again demanded NATO leave every country that joined after 1997 including Bulgaria, Romania & 12 others. After weeks of posturing, Putin launched a full scale invasion of the country Wednesday evening and has been condemned by Biden and leaders around the world,” Florida GOP senator Marco Rubio said in a tweet responding to Gabbard.
“I even think your pals at CPAC disagree with this psychotic take,” added Nomiki Konst, a former progressive candidate for New York City Public Advocate.
The ex-congresswoman shrugged off her critics.
“They are not living in the real world,” she said, claiming fears of Putin establishing the old Soviet empire were unfounded.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States has moved aggressively to expand the NATO alliance into the the eastern bloc nations of the old Soviet sphere of influence. Once Communist dominated nations like Poland, Hungary and Romania are now within the alliance. The issue has long chaffed at Putin, who has called the breakup of the Soviet Empire a “tragedy.”
Gabbard — a former 2020 presidential candidate and one-time vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee — cut a curious figure at the Orlando confab, where she greeted fans who have grown accustomed to seeing her now regular appearances in conservative media.
A longtime liberal Democrat, Gabbard was pro-choice and supported gun control, environmental regulations and universal health care during her presidential campaign. The American Conservative Union — which sponsors the annual conference — offered here a paltry 9% rating on their 2020 scorecard.
She was invited to the annual gathering by longtime CPAC boss Matt Schlaap and given a coveted speaking spot during the event’s Ronald Reagan dinner on Friday.
“I think it’s important that we have conversations whether they’re with people from our political party or people from a different political party,” Gabbard said, touting her bipartisan bonafides.
Though she remains a Democrat and endorsed Joe Biden for president over Donald Trump, Gabbard has since become a ferocious critic of the president.
“I am very disappointed with the decisions and the policies he put forward as president. His whole platform was based around trying to unite the American people and unfortunately he’s not only not carried out that promise, but so many of his policies have been divisive.”
The gadfly Hawaiian declined to offer any 2024 speculation. She’s working on a book and hasn’t ruled out getting involved in the midterm elections later this year. She might even be voting Republican.
“I have always been of the mindset that the interest of the country and the American people should come first before any political partisan interests,” she said.