Washington: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Friday slammed Hillary Clinton as "queen of warmongers" after the former US Secretary of State alleged that the Democratic election hopeful was being "groomed" by the Russians as the third-party candidate for the 2020 presidential elections.
Tulsi Gabbard, 38, who declared her presidential bid last year, is a favourite of the Indian-Americans mainly because of her being a Hindu.
The unprecedented war of words between the two US politicians erupted Friday when Hillary Clinton during an interview appeared to be floating a conspiracy theory that the Russians are "grooming" Tulsi Gabbard to be the third-party candidate in the presidential elections.
"I'm not making any predictions 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," Clinton said, in an apparent reference to Gabbard.
"She's the favourite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far," she told David Plouffe's "Campaign HQ" podcast.
Clinton did not take Tulsi Gabbard's name during the interview. But David Plouffe, a former aide to the ex-president Barack Obama, concluded the podcast by saying that Hillary Clinton's "belief that Tulsi Gabbard is going to be a third-party candidate propped up by Trump and the Russians."
Gabbard, who is a fourth-term Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii, fired back.
"Great! 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.
She claimed that there has been a concerted campaign to "destroy my reputation" from the day she announced her candidacy for the US presidential elections.
"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 said.
"It's now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don't cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly," she said.
Last week, President Donald Trump had teased Hillary Clinton on joining the race.
Clinton, who ran unsuccessfully in 2008 and 2016 for the White House, has so far said she is not planning a third-stint at the US presidency.
Interestingly, both Clinton and Gabbard have a massive following among Indian-Americans.
Gabbard is one of the more-than-dozen Democratic leaders who have thrown their hats in the party's 2020 primary race. While she has managed to appear in the presidential debates, her current polling is very low.