Gabbard defends Omar: I don't believe she intended 'to cause any offense'

Gabbard defends Omar: I don't believe she intended 'to cause any offense'
© Stefani Reynolds

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSanders opens up large lead ahead of Colorado primary: poll Steyer releases African American policy ahead of South Carolina primary Biden leads by 18 points in South Carolina: poll MORE (D) defended fellow Democratic Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarBiden, Klobuchar to address AIPAC via video Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Progressive group leader describes why Warren would be better than Sanders MORE (Minn.) on Sunday, stating that she did not believe Omar's intent "was to cause any offense" when she made remarks that were widely denounced by critics as anti-Semitic.

CNN host Dana Bash pressed Gabbard at a presidential town hall Sunday evening, asking if the 2020 White House contender would label Omar's comments as anti-Semitic.

"There are people who have expressed their offense at these statements," Gabbard said.

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"I think that what Congresswoman Omar was trying to get at was a deeper issue related to our foreign policy, and I think there's an important discussion that we have to be able to have openly even though we may end up disagreeing at the end of it. We've got to be able to have that openness to have the conversation," she added.

Pressed by Bash on whether Gabbard would go as far as to call Omar's comments anti-Semitic, Gabbard responded that she didn't believe Omar intended "to cause any offense."

"I don't believe her intent was to cause any offense," she said.

Omar came under fire last week when she suggested pro-Israel groups are pushing members of Congress to have “allegiance to a foreign country.”

The House voted overwhelmingly last week to support an anti-hate resolution, sparked by Omar's comments, which "encourages all public officials to confront the reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry." The resolution, which did not mention Omar by name, was originally expected to condemn anti-Semitism alone.

Other 2020 presidential candidates, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersMSNBC's Chris Matthews confuses South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate with GOP's Tim Scott Trump surveys South Carolina supporters on preferred Democratic opponent Watch live: Trump holds a rally in South Carolina MORE (I-Vt.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Bloomberg campaign lobbied Yang for endorsement, possible VP offer: report Biden looks to shore up lead in SC MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMSNBC's Chris Matthews confuses South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate with GOP's Tim Scott Trump surveys South Carolina supporters on preferred Democratic opponent Watch live: Trump holds a rally in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.) defended Omar last week, expressing concern that continued attention directed at Omar could put her at risk and hinder a larger conversation over U.S. support for Israel.