Running on platform of ‘peace at home and abroad,' Gabbard officially kicks off presidential campaign
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In front of scores of supporters in Waikiki on Saturday and with hundreds more watching online, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign, saying that she wants to “build a movement of peace at home and abroad that will fulfill the promise of America.”"
“Our cause is to create a new and different path that re-claims our destiny and restores the uniquely American ideal: to seek a higher purpose, greater than ourselves. To put service before self,” Gabbard, D-Hawaii, told attendees gathered at the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Great Lawn for the event.
“We serve as one. United by this bond of love for each other and love for our country."
The campaign kickoff comes after a rocky month for Gabbard, who since announcing plans to run for the White House in 2020 — joining a crowded field of Democratic contenders — has had to take to social media to apologize about previous statements she made about the LGBTQ community and has faced new scrutiny for meeting in 2017 with Syrian President Basar al Assad during an unannounced visit to the war-torn country.
In her speech Saturday, Gabbard didn’t address those issues head-on, but she did say that as president she’d be willing to sit down with friend or foe in order to avoid conflict.
“I will have the courage to meet with both friends and adversaries in the pursuit of peace and our national security,” Gabbard said. “Because if we lack the courage to meet with those we disagree with, the only alternative is war.”
The Congresswoman took the stage about 4 p.m. to address the crowd. Before her speech, a number of Hawaii artists performed for attendees, including Amy Hanaialii, Kimie Miner, and the Tonga Sisters.
Gabbard, who represents Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional district, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012.
Gabbard adds to a diverse — and growing — field of Democratic candidates who have announced they’ll challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. Among them: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren — all of whom have more name recognition and broader support than Gabbard.
But supporters say Gabbard, who is just 37, brings a new perspective for a new generation.
“Her heart is in serving this state and her country and we’re just so proud to have her step up," said Gabbard’s father, Mike Gabbard. “From this shy little girl that we raised, it’s just amazing to see the transformation.”
In addition to foreign policy, Gabbard’s speech touched on her support for tougher environmental regulations, criminal justice reform and Medicare for all.
She also took several swipes at Trump, saying he has turned “the swamp” into a cesspool of corruption.
Her overall message to attendees, though, was a simple one: Let’s do this.