Rep. Tim Ryan continued trading barbs with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard after the first part of the Democratic presidential debate, accusing her of befriending Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“I personally don’t need to be lectured by somebody who’s dining with a dictator who gassed kids,” the Ohio Democrat told reporters after the Wednesday debate. “I know what I’m talking about. I’m right, and we can’t let these areas be wide open.”
Gabbard, 38, visited Assad in 2017 calling him the legitimate president of Syria.
“My reason for going to visit Syria was really because of the suffering of the Syrian people that has been weighing heavily on my heart,” the Hawaiian Democrat said at the time. “Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria. In order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him.”
In 2019, Gabbard reaffirmed that she believed Assad is not a threat or enemy to the United States.
“Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States,” Gabbard said.
We heard attacks from warmongers in politics/media before. Those opposed to Iraq/Libya/Syria regime change wars are called “dicatator-lovers” or “cozy” with evil regimes. Rather than defend their position, they resort to name-calling & smears. American people wont fall for this.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) February 6, 2019
Gabbard ripped into Ryan during the first Democratic debate after he said the the Taliban was behind 9/11.
The congresswoman also criticized Ryan over not wanting to pull U.S. troops from the Middle East.
“The reality of it is if the United States is not engaged, the Taliban will grow. And we will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts, we have got to have some presence there,” Ryan said.
“The Taliban was there long before we came in and will be there long before we leave. We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we are going to somehow squash this Taliban,” Gabbard responded.
She took to Twitter after the debate to reiterate her foreign policy disagreements with Ryan.
“You know who is protecting al-Qaeda right now? It’s Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Gabbard is currently polling at 0.8% and Ryan is polling at 0.6% according to RealClearPolitics. The second part of the first Democratic presidential debate is slated for Thursday on MSNBC.