Hillary Clinton thinks that the Russians are going to try to help President Donald Trump clinch his re-election next year by supporting Democratic outsider candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in a third-party run in the general election.
During an hourlong podcast discussion, the Washington Post reported on Friday, the failed 2016 presidential candidate, who never names Gabbard, suggested that Russia is in the process of "grooming" the Hawaii congresswoman for a spoiler campaign.
"They're also going to do third-party again," Clinton said. "I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on someone who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far."
When asked if the former secretary of state was referring to Gabbard, a Clinton spokesman said, "If the nesting doll fits."
But, Clinton said, that would only happen if the Kremlin didn't employ 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein — whom she accused of being a "Russian asset" — for the same purpose.
"And that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she's also a Russian asset," Clinton said. "Yeah, she's a Russian asset — I mean, totally. They know they can't win without a third-party candidate. So I don't know who it's going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed."
While Stein didn't win a single electoral vote in the 2016 election, her campaign helped put Donald Trump in the White House due to her total vote numbers in a few key battleground states. A 2018 report commissioned by the Senate found that Russia used social media in an effort to boost Stein's campaign.
At Tuesday night's Democratic debate, Gabbard pushed back against the idea that she's in the tank for Moscow.
"The New York Times and CNN have also smeared veterans like myself for calling for an end to this regime change war," Gabbard said in a reply to a question about the situation in Syria. "Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying that I'm a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I'm an asset of Russia. Completely despicable."