Foreign policy is at the forefront of 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign. On Thursday, October 3, Gabbard spoke in Keene State College’s Lantern Room in the Student Center on issues such as healthcare, climate change and war.
KSC professor of political science Philip Barker introduced Gabbard.
“Tulsi Gabbard is the United States representative for Hawaii’s second congressional district, a position she’s held since 2012. She’s served for over six years on the Foreign Affairs Committee and on the Armed Services Committee,” Barker said. “She’s a war veteran with two tours of duty in the Middle East. She’s also the first female combat veteran ever to run for the presidency.”
Gabbard said that working for the interests of the American people is at the heart of her movement.
“We look to leaders and say, ‘How come these problems are not being solved? Why is it that our families are struggling still, election after election?’” Gabbard said. “It goes back to the vision our founding fathers had for us. They laid out this vision that we the people would have a government of the people, for the people. It feels like a joke because we’re so far away from that.”
Gabbard discussed how having people in power who only look out for the rich and powerful effects multiple facets of the nation. This includes healthcare, climate change and education, among other issues.
“With the healthcare system we have now, who benefits the most? It’s big insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies who are ranking in massive profits. The U.S. government is the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world. That means we have leverage and purchasing power. We have a lot of ability to drive those prices downward,” Gabbard said. “It begs the question, why are they fighting so hard to maintain this provision in our laws, to stop us from having the freedom to negotiate the price of prescription drugs?”
Gabbard also said that big pharmaceutical companies, as an industry, spend more on lobbyists and political action committees (PACs) than they do on advertising dollars.
“They are protecting their profits, their bottom line, their interests to the detriment of the people who actually need this medicine and drugs for their wellbeing, or sometimes to stay alive,” Gabbard said.
When asked about her plan for healthcare and whether or not she supports Medicare For All, Gabbard said she still believes there is room for private insurance options as well.
“I support a single-payer plan that ensures every single American is able to get the healthcare you need, when you need it, no matter if you only have a few bucks in your pocket or not,” Gabbard said. “Like many other countries in the world, Australia, the U.K., for example, who passed their own plans, there are also options for private insurance for those that choose that. That would not take away from guaranteeing every single American is able to get the quality healthcare they need.”
Another issue Gabbard placed emphasis on was the significance of the cost of war on Americans.
“It is the average of 22 veterans every single day who take their own lives who represent the terribly high human cost of war. Whether we realize it or not, every one of us is paying the price for war,” Gabbard said. “Taxpayer dollars come out of our pockets; over six trillion dollars have been spent on these wasteful, counterproductive wars of choice like Iraq, Libya, Syria, Mongolia and Afghanistan that have undermined our national security and have actually made us less safe because they’ve strengthened terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS.”
Gabbard said she wants to redirect this money toward fixing issues in the U.S. and improving communities.
Town hall attendee Billy Park asked Gabbard about an issue she is the only candidate to address during her campaign.
“Recently I heard about the Fairness Doctrine. I think it’s a great thing you’re putting forward,” Park said.
“The Fairness Doctrine was originally put in place to ensure our public airways are providing fair, unbiased content for us to see,” Gabbard said. “You can count on that I can go and watch this news program and they will tell me what is actually happening, and there’s an issue rather than just presenting one biased view. By law, they’re required to present all sides of the issue.”
The town hall concluded with Gabbard stressing how the political division in this country has caused a standstill on solving problems.
“We need to make sure we stand with one united voice,” Gabbard said. “We may have different ideas about how to solve these problems, but we stand united as Americans who love our country, who love and care for each other and we have to work together to be able to protect that and move forward together.”
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at