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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard blasted twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Thursday evening, warning the former secretary of state personifies “the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party.”

Gabbard’s scathing attack came after Clinton argued the Hawaii congresswoman is being “groomed” by Russia to run a third-party candidacy.

While not explicitly mentioning Gabbard by name, the scandal plagued former secretary of state insinuated Gabbard is Russia’s favorite candidate during a podcast with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe on Thursday.

“I’m not making any predictions,” Clinton said, “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. She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

Clinton then argued Jill Stein, a Green Party candidate is also “a Russian asset.”

“They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far,” she continued. “And that’s assuming [Green Party politician] Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset. She’s a Russian asset, I mean, totally. They know they can’t win without a third party candidate.”

A third-party candidate would assure Trump’s victory in 2020, Plouffe later noted on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/davidplouffe/status/1185221812084297728?s=20

Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill was then pressed by CNN on whether Clinton was referring to Gabbard.

“If the nesting doll fits,” he responded. “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,” he added.

Gabbard, who has had to repeatedly deny accusations of being a Russian asset, fired back Friday evening, excoriating Clinton as “the queen of warmongers.”

“Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain,” she tweeted.

“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation,” she added. “We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.”

Gabbard recommended Clinton throw her hat in the presidential race a third time, instead of working to sabotage the Hawaii congresswoman’s campaign through veiled attacks from her surrogates.  

“It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me,” she said. “Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.”

Gabbard has insisted she will not attempt a third-party bid.   

“I will not,” she told CNN in August. “No, I have ruled that out.”

Clinton’s criticism of Gabbard echo a report published by NBC News  in February claiming Russian propaganda outlets were promoting her presidential aspirations.

Unlike the other 2020 Democrats, Gabbard, a veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait and remains a Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, centers her campaign message on ending U.S. wars. She has repeatedly warned the government is ignoring domestic needs to pay for wasteful foreign wars.

The four-term Democratic representative is by no means a conservative. She was an early endorsee of Bernie Sanders in 2016 and is a proponent of eliminating the electoral college, few – if any – limits on abortion, making college free, reparations, a ban on assault weapons, universal medicare, citizenship for Dreamers, and wants to slash the defense budget. But Gabbard’s anti-interventionist streak, advocacy of free speech, civil discourse, government transparency, and criticism of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy have made her an outcast in the Democratic presidential field.

Newly released undercover video obtained by Project Veritas shows CNN staffers admitting the network gives less coverage to Gabbard because she is less radical than her Democratic counterparts.

The most favorable candidate of the network, Sierra admitted, is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), CNN’s Media Coordinator Christian Sierra explained, while admitting the network helps propel a candidate’s campaign by giving the preferred candidate more air-time.   

“I think they like Warren a lot,” he said. “They don’t like Tulsi. They don’t like Tulsi Gabbard.”

Gabbard is not radical enough to attain favorability at CNN, Sierra notes, warning “she supports, Assad and she’s not taking a conventional route when it comes to one policy, stuff like that.”

Gabbard was the target of bipartisan criticism after she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017, despite the Syrian president’s human rights record and role in the ongoing refugee crisis. After the meeting she said she was “skeptical” that Assad’s regime was behind a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of people in Syria.

She is polling at 1.2 percent nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. The Hawaii lawmaker contends the Democratic establishment is squandering her candidacy.