Tulsi Gabbard

Iowa Democratic Steak Fry - Sept. 21, 2019

Tulsi Gabbard
September 21, 2019— Des Moines, Iowa
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Aloha Iowa Democrats! How you guys doing? You know, in Hawaii when we get these little gentle showers we consider them blessings. Yeah I feel blessed, I feel grateful to be here to join all of you today at such an important time. Now I start our conversation here with ‘aloha’ because it's important. You know, we're facing increasingly divided times. Self-serving politicians in Washington who are pitting one group of us against the other, pitting one tribe against the other, tearing us apart. And now I start with ‘aloha’ because, not as a way to say hello, but because there's a very powerful meaning here that inspires us in how we can come together. When we greet each other with aloha really what we are saying is I come to you with an open heart. That I come to you with respect and I come to you with love recognizing that we are all connected, that we are all family. We are all children of God and this aloha inspires us to come together, to bridge those divides, regardless of where we come from, regardless of who we love or how we worship or if we worship. Aloha is what unites us. Now, we live in a great country. I love our country and I love the American people and there is so much that brings us together. The values and the principles and the freedoms enshrined within our Constitution, these are the things that bring us together. These are the things that we are fighting for.

I read recently--reread again recently Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address where he spoke very briefly and very clearly about the great sacrifice that was made on those battlefields. About the new nation that was born dedicated to the proposition that we are all created equal and he laid out the best way that we, as people, can honor the great sacrifice that was made. He laid out how we must, going forward, ensure that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Now, is that the government we have today? It's not. We have not carried out that vision that Abraham Lincoln had for us. Instead we have a government of, by and for the rich and powerful and we the people are left behind as a result. We the people end up struggling and suffering as a result. Now you deserve a president who will fight for you, who will put your well-being ahead of the interests of profits. Who will put people ahead of politics. Who will put the well-being of the American people in our country at the forefront. This is why I'm running for president. To bring these values so the heart of every soldier, at the heart of every service member, the values of service above self, to restore the principles of integrity and honor and respect to the presidency. As your president I’ll crack down on big pharma and big insurance companies and make sure every single American gets the health care that they need. As your president I'm gonna make sure that education of our kids is a priority and we pay our teachers what they deserve and we make sure that our kids have every opportunity for their lives. I will end the failed war on drugs and the federal marijuana prohibition and bring about real criminal justice reform at a broken system that's torn far too many families apart and that has cost the American people so much. I'll tackle climate change. I first got involved with politics--I first ran for office in Hawaii back when I was 21 years old, running for the State House because of a desire to protect our planet. To make sure that we have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe. Together we can usher in a new green century, harnessing all that innovation and technology has to offer us to make sure that we are protecting our planet, creating good jobs, transitioning off of fossil fuels and truly investing in our future.

Now, there is an issue that is central to all of these other issues, all of these other challenges that we face here and that issue is the cost of war. The cost of war, it is something that, as a soldier, I know all too well in a deeply personal way. I served on two deployments to the Middle East and my first deployment was to Iraq in 2005 during the height of the war. I served in a field medical unit, where every single day we were confronted with that high human cost of war. I've served in Congress now for nearly seven years on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Homeland Security Committee. I understand the importance of our national security and I also know how deeply painful the terrible loss is for the thousands of families who never got to welcome their loved ones home from these wasteful regime-change wars that have undermined our national security. That have caused such pain and suffering in the countries where we waged these wars and that have cost every single one of us, as taxpayers, trillions of dollars since 9/11 alone. What does that mean, trillions of dollars? Every single dollar that's been spent on these wasteful wars is a dollar that's come out of our classrooms, it's come out of our healthcare system, it's come out of our communities. Where has it gone? It's gone towards waging these wasteful wars in the nation building that has followed. Today as we gather here, we are still spending four billion dollars every single month in Afghanistan. We need to bring our troops home and bring our taxpayer dollars home to rebuild our own nation right here at home. Now, unfortunately these are not just things that are happening in the past. For those of you who’ve been watching the news you'll see how yesterday, President Trump's Secretary of Defense announced the deployment of more troops. To where? To Saudi Arabia. To defend Saudi Arabia's oil, to defend Saudi Arabia's infrastructure. Handing off our sovereignty and our military to be used by another country. That's not why we take this oath to serve, we take this oath to serve the American people and to protect and defend our country. I'm running for president to end this insanity. The most important job--that responsibility that the president has is to serve as commander-in-chief and as your commander-in-chief I will end these wasteful, wasteful regime-change wars, make sure we don't start any new ones. Work to end this new Cold War we are in and an arms race that would further cost us trillions and more lives and instead redirect those dollars towards serving the needs of our people, right here at home.

There is so much at stake here. We are facing very dangerous times. This is why we are here and this is why I am hopeful because I know that when we stand together, motivated by this love we have for our country, for each other and for our future, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome. Thank you for all that you do, I ask you to join me in our campaign. I ask you for your support to bring about the kind of change we need to put people and our country above all else. Thank you all so much, have a great rest of your day, it's great to see you. Aloha!