2020 candidate Tulsi Gabbard packs Lebanon’s Salt hill Pub

  • Crowd members jostle for a view of U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, during a presidential campaign event at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, N.H., on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Valley News — Liz Sauchelli)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/9/2019 10:18:20 PM

LEBANON — If the field of Democratic presidential candidates seems crowded, it’s nothing compared to the throng that turned out to see just one of them in Lebanon on Saturday.

About 100 people came to hear U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speak at a town hall-style meeting at Salt hill Pub. They packed into a small room off the main pub, with a few dozen more spilling outside the doors.

Gabbard made the most of the sizable crowd, entering through the back of the pub and shaking hands with admirers as she came to the front. She spoke for about 20 minutes before taking questions from the crowd.

“We are not the United States of America that we need to be,” Gabbard said, citing a need to turn the tide and treat each other better. “We start with respect.”

She touted her ability to work across the aisle with Republicans, particularly on her “help heroes fly” bill which made it easier for veterans with prosthetic limbs to make it through security more easily.

And common ground is one of the reasons she cited for her push for the Oval Office.

“When I look out into the country, I see fellow Americans,” Gabbard said regarding why she’s in the race. “I don’t see deplorables. I don’t see us-versus-them.”

Military and foreign policy is one area where Gabbard feels she has the bona fides.

She served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she is currently a major in the Army National Guard. She got cheers when she talked about ending wars and the nuclear arms race.

“Our foreign policy connects to every other issue that we face,” she said.

When the time came for questions from the audience, it started with a divisive topic: abortion and restrictions thereon.

Gabbard said she supports abortion rights under Roe v. Wade but is opposed to abortions in the third trimester unless they are medically necessary to protect the life or health of the mother. 

The candidate also fielded questions about health care, and she took aim at the financial motives driving U.S. health care.

“The problem with our health care system is that at its core it is a profit-driven one,” she said, adding that the nation needs to address the core reasons medical costs are so high and find a way to bring those costs down.

She also spoke of promoting nutrition training for physicians and addressing the problem of food deserts — areas where finding healthy food is difficult — which she said disproportionately affect minorities and people of color.

Gabbard elicited a few grumbles for her response to a question about the electoral college, which gave Donald Trump the presidency in 2016 despite his losing the popular vote. She did not condemn electors or advocate for the process to be abolished as other Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D.-Mass, have called for.

“I don’t support getting rid of the electoral college. What we need is to reform it,” Gabbard said, adding that it helps give smaller states like New Hampshire and Hawaii a say in the electoral process.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

Correction

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said in an appearance in Lebanon Saturday evening that she supports abortion rights under Roe v. Wade but is opposed to abortions in the third trimester unless they are medically necessary to protect the life or health of the mother. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described her stance.




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