At this week's Democratic debate, Tulsi Gabbard called out "despicable" reports in the media suggesting that she's a favorite of the Russians. Now it appears that Hillary Clinton is joining the Gabbard critics. In an appearance on the David Plouffe podcast Campaign HQ, Clinton suggested that the Kremlin does indeed like Gabbard, reports Axios. "I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate," said Clinton. "She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far." Note that Clinton did not actually name Gabbard, but Axios is not the only site to make an educated guess that she's talking about the Hawaii congresswoman—the Washington Post and the Daily Beast make the link, too.
So what's with the Gabbard-Russia allegations? As Axios notes, one factor is that Gabbard has defended Russian ally Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and she maintains (in sync with her isolationist foreign policy views) that the US has no business in a "regime change war" to oust him. A recent New York Times article noted that some fringe-right websites also have embraced Gabbard because they see her as the Democratic version of President Trump, though she chafes against their support. In the podcast, Clinton also labeled the Green Party's Jill Stein a "Russian asset—I mean, totally." She said the Russians will back Gabbard if Stein doesn't run again because Moscow wants to divide Democrats in key states with a "vigorous third-party challenge." As for Trump: "I don't know what Putin has on him—whether it's both personal and financial. I assume it is." (Read more Hillary Clinton stories.)