Gabbard campaign manager to step aside after official launch
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's campaign manager for her forthcoming bid for president will leave the campaign after its official launch this weekend, NBC News has confirmed.
Rania Batrice, Gabbard's campaign manager and a longtime progressive activist who served as Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders' deputy campaign manager during his underdog 2016 presidential bid, confirmed her decision to NBC News on Tuesday evening.
Politico first reported her departure hours earlier.
The Gabbard campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but campaign spokeswoman Erika Tsuji told Politico that Batrice is a "long-time advisor and friend and remains so" despite her departure. Tsuji also downplayed the reporting that progressive consulting firm Revolution Messaging will leave after the launch as well, arguing that the campaign had only hired Revolution to assist with the launch event.
The latest news comes days before Gabbard's official launch event, set for Feb. 2 in Hawaii, and amid a spate of bad headlines dogging her from her unofficial announcement earlier this month.
Just days after she announced she'd run for president on CNN, an announcement Politico reports came as a surprise to a staff that was still deciding on the timeline for her rollout, Gabbard faced a deluge of criticism from Democrats about her previous stance against same-sex marriage and her activism alongside her father promoting a state constitutional amendment in Hawaii banning gay marriage.
Gabbard apologized, noting that she had been influenced by her father's position on the issue and has subsequently changed her mind.
She also hasn't shied away from criticism about her controversial 2017 meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who the international community has accused of using chemical weapons against her own citizens. She defended the meeting during an interview with CNN and used footage from her trip to Syria in her announcement video.
If Gabbard is unable to win the Democratic presidential nomination, she will face another challenge back home in the form of a congressional primary challenge from state Sen. Kai Kahele.