Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for the American people to unite and expressed hope for future after joining volunteers supporting her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in a community cleanup of MacArthur Park Saturday.
“We have to unite around these principals of service above self, of putting people our people ahead of profits, putting people ahead of politics, putting our people and our planet at the forefront of all that we are doing,” said Gabbard, who turned 38 on Friday.
Gabbard said she was “fired up, energized” and “puffed up and full of hope because of the energy that we have here today.”
“There are groups of people just like you all across the country who are gathering in groups large and small determined to take action and to bring about this positive change we need to see,” Gabbard said.
“This is how we make it happen — one by one, day by day — continuing to grow and build this movement for peace, both here at home and abroad. This opportunity we have to make sure that our future is one that is just, with peace and prosperity and opportunity for everyone.”
Gabbard accused “the powers that be in Washington” of continuing “to ignore the power of the people.”
“They have lost touch with our energy, with our hopes, with all that we are doing to bring about change,” Gabbard said. “That’s quite all right cause we will make sure our voices are heard. We will make sure that our actions will lead us to that better and brighter future that brings the people in this country together.”
Gabbard earlier discussed veterans-related issues at the Hawthorne Veterans Benefits Day at the Hawthorne Memorial Center. She is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Gabbard announced her candidacy Jan. 12 during an appearance on “The Van Jones Show” on CNN, saying the main reason she was running was “the issue of war and peace.”
In her Feb. 2 speech in Honolulu launching her campaign, Gabbard said she would “bring a soldier’s principles to the White House — restoring the values of dignity, honor and respect to the presidency. And above all, love for our people and love of country.”
While serving in the Hawaii House of Representatives in 2003, Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard. She volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers in 2004, dropping plans to campaign for a second term.
Her first deployment was a 12-month tour at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq, serving in a field medical unit as a specialist with a 29th Support Battalion medical company. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal at the end of this tour.
Gabbard again voluntarily deployed with her unit to the Middle East in 2009, leading her platoon on a variety of security missions, conducting non-military host-nation visits and serving as a primary trainer for the Kuwait National Guard.
She was one of the first women to set foot inside a Kuwait military facility and became the first woman to be awarded and honored by the Kuwait National Guard for her work in their training and readiness program, according to a biography provided by her congressional office.
Between her deployments, Gabbard was a legislative aide to then-Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, advising him on energy, homeland security, environmental and veteran issues.
Gabbard was first elected to office in 2002 as a member of Hawaii House of Representatives. At 21, she was the youngest person elected in Hawaiian history, a congressional aide said.
Gabbard was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010. She was elected to the first of four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, the first Hindu member of Congress.
Gabbard was born in American Samoa. Her mother is white, born in Indiana, grew up in Michigan, was raised Methodist and later converted to Hinduism.
Her father is of Samoan and European descent, grew up in the South, attended a Catholic seminary and is a lector in the Catholic church.
Gabbard’s family moved to Hawaii when she was 2 years old. She was home-schooled through high school except for two years at a missionary academy for girls in the Philippines.
Gabbard received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University.
If elected, Gabbard would be the nation’s first woman president, the youngest — breaking the record of Theodore Roosevelt, who was 42 when he succeeded the assassinated William McKinley in 1901 — and the first born in the 1980s.
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