Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) corrected Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in the first 2020 Democratic debate after Ryan said the Taliban was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “The Taliban was there long before we came in and they will be there long after we leave. We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we’re going somehow squash this Taliban—” Gabbard said, before Ryan interrupted her.
“When [the U.S.] weren’t in there, [the Taliban] started flying planes into our buildings,” Ryan said. Gabbard’s response: “The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11, al Qaeda did. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after al Qaeda after 9/11.” (Gabbard wasn’t totally correct here: The Taliban did harbor al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden pre-9/11.) Ryan and Gabbard’s spat came after Ryan said the United States needs to “stay engaged” in Afghanistan, otherwise the Taliban will commit “bigger, bolder terrorist attacks.” Gabbard then asked Ryan if that was how he would tell the parents of the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday. Gabbard said she thought that Ryan’s answer is unacceptable. “We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan,” she said.