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Tulsi Gabbard calls for putting 'service above self' in White House

Veteran brings presidential campaign to Eastern Iowa

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic presidential hopeful, gives closing remarks Tuesday before taking questions during her Coffee and Toffee House Party in Solon.  (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democratic presidential hopeful, gives closing remarks Tuesday before taking questions during her Coffee and Toffee House Party in Solon. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

SOLON — You could say it was serendipity that brought Silas Garcia and Kate Maas to a house party for U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Tuesday afternoon.

Garcia was mowing the lawn next door when he saw the Tulsi 2020 signs going up.

“So I guess I’m taking a late lunch,” Garcia said while waiting in Paul Julius’ Lake Macbride backyard.

He’s interested in the Hawaiian congresswoman because he sees her as “classically liberal ... more moderate and at least willing to listen to the other side, to engage other viewpoints.”

Maas, who lives in Omaha, was visiting a friend in Iowa City when she saw the Gabbard event on social media and decided to run up to rural Solon, where she joined about 25 others who heard the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful.

“She really spoke to me” in the last debate, Maas said. Gabbard’s military service — she has been a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 16 years and deployed to the Mideast twice — impressed Maas. On a personal level, Maas appreciates Gabbard’s plans to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and as a health care worker, she sees the need to address opioid addiction.

Gabbard, 38, and now-Sen. Tammy Duckworth were the first female combat veterans elected to Congress, and Gabbard is the first female combat veteran to run for president. She spent much of her time talking about the cost of war.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that motivated her to join the National Guard, Americans have spent more than $6 trillion on “regime change wars” that Gabbard said have undermined United States’ national security interests by strengthening ISIS and al-Qaida.

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Although foreign policy isn’t polling well, Gabbard said the cost of war and the cost of the Trump administration’s foreign policy “is directly connected to every top-of-mind issue — health care, education, the environment, infrastructure, and tax and trade” because they don’t leave enough funding to address those priorities.

As president, Gabbard promised to end “wasteful, counterproductive regime-change wars” and “move to end this new Cold War and arms race we’re in.” Tensions between the United States and other nuclear-armed countries — Russia, China, North Korea — have “pushed us to the brink of nuclear catastrophe, an existential threat to all of us,” Gabbard said.

In her first week as president, Gabbard would call for talks with those nations to “begin to walk us back from the brink of nuclear disaster.”

Gabbard thinks she has a command of those issues because in addition to being a soldier, she is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Armed Services Committee and House Homeland Security Committee.

“There is a sea change necessary in our government, both in our foreign policy and the overarching governance that we have seen too long being ruled by the very few and the very rich and the very powerful,” she said.

Her mission is to “bring the values of service above self that is at the heart of every soldier and every service member back to government, back to the White House,” Gabbard said.

On Tuesday, Gabbard also had campaign events in Cedar Rapids, Brighton and Washington, Iowa.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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