Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) speaks during the AARP and The Des Moines Register Iowa Presidential Candidate Forum on July 17, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
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The Democrats hoping to replace President Donald Trump in the White House next year mostly praised the House for impeaching the president Wednesday night.
One candidate felt differently.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, voted “present” on both articles of impeachment the chamber passed charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The 2020 hopeful was the only House member Wednesday who cast a vote but effectively abstained.
In a statement following her vote, Gabbard said: “I am standing in the center and have decided to vote present.”
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she said.
Gabbard continued: “I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country. When I cast my vote in support of the impeachment inquiry nearly three months ago, I said that in order to maintain the integrity of this solemn undertaking, it must not be a partisan endeavor. Tragically, that’s what it has been.”
Gabbard, who sits ninth in an average of national Democratic primary polling, according to RealClearPolitics, took a decidedly different tone on impeachment than the leading candidates in the race.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said that Trump “abused his power, violated his oath of office, and betrayed our nation.” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called impeachment “the right thing to do.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called House impeachment “an important step to hold [Trump] accountable.” South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said lawmakers’ oath of office “required Congress to defend the rule of law, our national security, and our democracy from a president who puts his own interests above America’s.”
In her statement, Gabbard said Trump has “violated public trust” but criticized her party’s impeachment process. She added that she introduced a resolution to censure Trump to “send a strong message” that presidents’ abuses of power “will not go unchecked.”
The Hawaii lawmaker said she hoped voters would rebuke Trump in the election next year. Her decision to vote “present” confounded at least one Democrat.
“That’s just stupid,” former Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill said on MSNBC.