Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 108 days until the Iowa caucuses and 382 days until the 2020 presidential election.
2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said this week that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, is likely being groomed by Moscow as a third-party candidate for the 2020 race.
In an interview on the podcast of former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, Clinton expressed her concerns about possible Russian interference in 2020.
“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.”
While Clinton didn’t mention Gabbard by name, no other female candidates currently running in the primary — Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar and spiritualist author Marianne Williamson — have been accused of having ties to Russia.
Clinton also labeled Jill Stein, who ran for president in 2016 as a Green Party candidate, as “a Russian asset.”
“And that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset,” said Clinton. “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.”
Clinton’s team didn’t back off the claim on Friday.
“If the nesting doll fits,” Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill told CNN. “This is not some outlandish claim. This is reality. If the Russian propaganda machine, both their state media and their bot and troll operations, is backing a candidate aligned with their interests, that is just a reality, it is not speculation.”