Gabbard pushes back after Meghan McCain suggests she's an 'Assad apologist'

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardMomentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Poll: Biden is only Dem candidate that beats Trump outside of margin of error Gabbard: US must not go to war with Iran MORE (D-Hawaii) battled "The View" host Meghan McCain on Wednesday over accusations that Gabbard had acted as an "apologist" for Bashar Assad's government in Syria.

During an appearance on the program Wednesday morning, McCain opened by attacking Gabbard's 2020 candidacy for president and questioning "where [Gabbard] come[s] from a humanitarian standpoint if you were to become president.”

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"You have said that the Syrian president, Assad, is not the enemy of the United States,” McCain said. “Yet he’s used chemical weapons against his own people 300 times, that was a red line with President Obama. That is not our enemy? 13 million Syrians have been displaced."

In 2017, Gabbard faced criticism after she revealed that she sat down for a meeting with Assad during a trip to the country.

But Gabbard accused the conservative host of misrepresenting her comments.

“You’re putting words in my mouth that I’ve never said," Gabbard told McCain.

"An enemy of the United States is someone who threatens our safety and our security. There is no disputing the fact that Bashar al-Assad in Syria is a brutal dictator. There’s no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people," she continued.

"This is not something that I’m disputing, nor am I apologizing or defending these actions," the lawmaker said. "My point is that the reality we are facing here is that since the United States started waging a covert regime change war in Syria starting in 2011, the lives of the Syrian people have not been improved."

Gabbard added that terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda remain strong in Syria even as U.S.-aligned forces have pushed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria forces back into one small remaining stronghold.

A major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, Gabbard served in a field medical unit in both Iraq and Kuwait from 2004-2005 and 2008-2009, respectively.

Gabbard remains the only announced Democratic candidate for president in 2020 with a record of military service, and has advocated in the past against military action in Syria.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, announced an exploratory committee last month.