Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard touted her foreign policy experience and military service during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Friday. Speaking to potential caucus-goers and reporters, Gabbard called for an end to the country’s “wasteful wars” which she says are hamstringing federal funding for other policy priorities.
Gabbard has served in the Hawaii Army National Guard since 2003 and has been deployed twice to the Middle East, serving in Iraq and Kuwait. One of the first things she did after taking the stage at the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair was to recognize the veterans and military families in the audience.
Gabbard says that while military service is not a necessity for commanders in chief, she feels it sets her apart in the crowded Democratic field. She told the audience of fairgoers Friday that she knows intimately the “high human cost of war," and the “visible and invisible wounds” service members come home with.
Gabbard also pointed to what she sees as the high economic cost of war, which she says is preventing the federal government from taking steps to improve the quality of life for the American people. Gabbard promised that as president she would scale back America’s foreign interventions.
“This is why as your president, as your commander in chief, I’m committed to ending these wasteful wars,” Gabbard said, “working to end this new Cold War we are in with ever-escalataing tensions between the United States and other nuclear armed countries like Russia and China.”
Doing so would open up new possibilities for domestic programs, from universal healthcare to protecting access to clean air and water, and combating global climate change.
“Every time politicians tell you, ‘sorry there’s just not enough money to make sure the levees in your communities work to prevent flooding, there’s just not enough money to build up our infrastructure, not enough money to make sure the water is clean’,” Gabbard said. “The reality is these same politicians are signing off on and approving spending trillions of our taxpayer dollars on paying for these wasteful, counterproductive wars.”
Gabbard also called on Democrats to not focus solely on President Donald Trump, saying that many of the country’s issues predate the 2016 presidential election.
“It’s bigger than that because folks in this country were struggling and suffering before November of 2016 and we’ve got to recognize that in order to solve the deep problems that we face,” Gabbard said.