Moments after meeting Presidential Candidate and Congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, it’s apparent she is very different than many of the politicians in Washington DC. But did her transparency and honesty turn her party against her?
Gabbard is guided by a clear set of ethics and doesn’t seem to be influenced by the political craziness of the day. She takes many positions that don’t align with Republicans or Democrats but are simply what she believes are morally right.
The Tulsi Gabbard Cult?
She’s certainly taken a beating for her openess, honesty and willingness to oppose even her own side, with her followers being labeled the Tulsi Gabbard cult.
Congresswoman Gabbard and I disagree on much, but I highly respect critical thinkers who are honest, open, and objective and not swayed by partisanship. She fits that mold and if more candidates embraced her style, we’d see political division end in this country.
VIDEO: Tulsi Gabbard Interview in WHO Radio Studio
Tulsi Gabbard Interview with Justin BradyJump to Tulsi Gabbard’s interview »
(Open in phone browser to listen)
Full Transcript of Tulsi Gabbard Interview
Justin Brady: We have a very special guest in here, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joins us. Thank you so much for coming in-studio, I really appreciate it.
Tulsi Gabbard: Aloha to you, Justin. I’m glad to be here with you.
Justin Brady: So first question I have is did you watch the debate last night? We might get into this later, but there are some sneaky things going on at the DNC and you weren’t included, so did you watch it at all?
Tulsi Gabbard: I did not. We got here yesterday afternoon. I did some other interviews here. We did a local radio interview and we did a local TV interview. Got back, turned it on for a couple of minutes and then turned it off and moved on to other things.
Justin Brady: So if it makes you feel any better, I did the exact same thing. I was watching on my phone and I was like, you know, this is the same recycled junk I’ve heard a billion times. It’s nothing new and it’s just a bunch of pandering. I can’t take it.
Tulsi Gabbard: That’s the problem with this format is does it really help voters to be able to learn more about us as candidates, our motivation, our positions on issues, our vision for the country? And you’ve got, the way it’s laid out, 30 to 60-second answers and the things that are really promoted are not the substance, but the things that drive up the ratings and the big ad buys and stuff for the hosting station. And just, to me, it doesn’t really help voters. What it really does is it’s a great platform to be able to raise national name recognition. That’s the benefit, frankly, for us as candidates. So yeah. So I’m happy to be here in Iowa.
Justin Brady: At what cost though? Because yeah, it does, like Beto O’Rourke, he certainly has more name recognition, but I personally think it’s really, really bad name recognition. Now he’s selling shirts with the F word bleeped on them. He’s talking about taking everyone’s guns away. He’s talking about it’s fine to kill a child one day before they’re born. So I’m kind of like, argh. You’ve spoken against this by the way, like aggressive, this anger, this obvious pandering. You’ve spoken against how your competitors just pander all the time. So here’s my question, isn’t it kind of working? I mean, aren’t Democrats right now pandering to the least informed voters?
Tulsi Gabbard: Well, this is the problem with our politics is that you see on both sides of the aisle, kind of this extreme divisiveness and hyper-partisanship that’s tearing our country apart. You see this identity politics being used to tear us apart, rather than, frankly, having leaders who are standing and saying we are all Americans, we love our country. And while we may disagree on how we solve the challenges we face, we have different ideas on how we approach these problems, we stand firmly on this common ground of appreciation for the freedoms and principles that are the bedrock of our country. That’s the approach that I take, and this is why at our town hall gatherings, at our rallies, we have Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, we have people from all ends of the political spectrum coming together, connecting on areas of common ground and interest and agreeing to work together, even on the areas where they may find disagreement. That’s the kind of unifying leadership that I think our country needs and that I seek to bring.
Justin Brady: Yeah, I totally agree with you. We have such negativity on both sides, and I’ve said this a billion times before, but it’s almost like the Democrat party has seen that anger and crazy comments and a Twitter feed that looks like a … Well, I’ll just call it a crazy person. I’m not calling Trump a crazy person, but man, his Twitter feed is terrible. And so it’s almost like the Democrats saw that and they’re trying to fight crazy with more crazy.
Tulsi Gabbard: I think too many are reacting to what Trump is doing and I think that that plays directly into what Trump wants. You know, people to be reacting every single day to all of the different things that he’s throwing out in the universe, rather than actually focusing on what matters most is which the people of this country. For us as elected leaders, that is the mission that we have. That is the trust that’s been given to us. And this is what frustrates me most about the gridlock in Washington is that it’s so reactionary and it’s not reacting to what matters most, which is how people are struggling and suffering.
Justin Brady: And it has nothing to do with people, like you just said. Has nothing to do with people. It has everything to do with scoring political points and making someone else look bad.
Tulsi Gabbard: Exactly.
Justin Brady: And so yeah, Americans literally are left in the lurch. I do have to ask you, I heard your Pledge of Allegiance ad and it was great, but here’s kind of a sign of the dark times we’re in. My first thought was, “Ooh, that’s bold. I wonder if she got push back?” So did you get anybody offended or pushing back on you because you read the Pledge of Allegiance?
Tulsi Gabbard: I don’t know. Maybe somewhere in the Twittersphere. I try not to dive too deeply into that black hole. What I’ve gotten, I think, that speaks to, frankly, what inspires me about being out on the road and visiting different communities across Iowa and in different states, is how that message of appreciation and love for our country is actually drawing people together. And that’s where you see, gosh, you start asking, isn’t the pandering working?
Well, if all you do is look at Twitter, then you might think that’s true. But Twitter represents what, two or 3% of the population of this country, and I think more people are really just looking for a strong, unifying leadership that’s going to put the wellbeing of people ahead of politics, putting people ahead of a special interest corporate profits. And this is something I talk about all the time is actually bringing about Abraham Lincoln’s vision for our country, which is a government of, by, and for the people.
Justin Brady: You’ve spoken about this a little bit on Tucker Carlson, you mentioned it a little bit. I’ll just say in a very nice way, there are some shady things happening at the DNC. We saw it Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton and I think we’re probably seeing it now. You made a great, and it was respectful, but it was a comment to Kamala Harris, and we almost saw her poll numbers get chopped in half. Are you being punished for that?
Tulsi Gabbard: Who knows what’s going on really within the DNC. I think the biggest issue that I’ve called out and the biggest issue that I see that extends beyond my own campaign, which is a lack of transparency in this primary process. And when you’ve got a lack of transparency, what the result is is people end up kind of scratching their heads saying, hey, what’s really going on here? Leading to distrust that this process is actually working for them, that it will be fair and transparent for voters who are making the most important decision. And leaving them feeling like, well, the DNC is saying that they are the gatekeepers who will determine who voters are allowed to choose from as their nominee, forgetting that this choice lies squarely within the hands of the voters of this country.
Justin Brady: Most of the front runners, I would say, other than Vice President Joe Biden, of course, they have the same style, which is say really mean things, really aggressive things, go to severe extremes. Is there a chance that the DNC is using this year to wear down the GOP so that they can float another candidate? And do you know if they’re talking about someone else? Are they looking for the next Obama?
Tulsi Gabbard: I have no idea. I have no idea. You know, I think the biggest problem is when you look at the power of the party politics and how they leverage that for their own interests rather than the interests of the people, I think that’s the biggest concern that people have.
Justin Brady: Yeah. I think that’s happening. I think absolutely that’s happening, from what we’re seeing. One of the things that I don’t think has gotten enough attention is I think an area where I might agree with you quite a bit and I’ve asked Governor Delaney this, and excuse me, I’ve asked Congressman Delaney this and Governor Hickenlooper and both would not give me a straight answer on this, but you answered this pretty directly. You are pro-choice, however, you believe there should be limitations put where?
Tulsi Gabbard: Late-term abortion, the third trimester. This question, this decision is often the most difficult decision that a woman is faced with, and I don’t agree with Hillary Clinton on a lot of things, but she said something that I actually do agree with, that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. And for me personally, I am personally pro-life, I would not make that decision for myself, but I don’t believe that our government should be in the position of making that decision for any woman. But I also think that there should be some restrictions, where in that third trimester, that late-term abortion, that should be restricted unless a woman’s life is at risk or she’s at risk of facing severe health consequences if she’s not able to get that abortion.
Justin Brady: Yeah, and everybody on the show knows my opinion on this. I think unborn life is still life and I think it should be protected. Life, liberty, and happiness. So are we talking of a ban? Third-trimester ban from the Tulsi Gabbard presidency?
Tulsi Gabbard: With those exceptions in place, yes.
Justin Brady: With those exceptions in place?
Tulsi Gabbard: Yes.
Justin Brady: Got it. Oh boy, I’m blanking on his name now, but it reminds me a little bit more of the Libertarian candidate for … Gary Johnson. It’s who I voted for last time. He had a view more like that.
So how do you think the DNC does actually go about kind of usurping the will of the people? I do want to get back to this a little bit. Are there any specifics that you guys have seen or any specific things that are kind of showing their head? I do want to see if you know anything about that before I move on?
Tulsi Gabbard: Well, no. I think what is kind of a question here that a lot of folks are commenting on social media about and raising questions is, is how the DNC is choosing which polls they deem as qualifying versus not.
Justin Brady: Yeah. Right.
Tulsi Gabbard: They set two requirements. One is grassroots donors. We blew way past that requirement several weeks ago. I am grateful for the tremendous support we’re getting from people in all 50 States and territories. $5, $10, like really folks who are investing in our campaign and our vision for the future. The DNC requires at least four polls at 2%, I think I’ve gotten now probably close to 30 poles that are showing me at or exceeding 2%, but the DNC has only chosen to recognize two of them. And this is where the question of transparency comes into play. How are they making that decision, which polls are qualifying, which aren’t.
Justin Brady: And they don’t want to say.
Tulsi Gabbard: Which are most accurate, which aren’t. Who is actually being pulled? The demographics. Are they focusing on early states versus national polls, which really are just name ID polls that that focus on who’s most well-known or famous. So there are all these things and I don’t want to get into it too much, but these are the questions that are being raised in the minds of folks who are saying, hey, hold on a second, these numbers aren’t quite matching up. Where, my average polling numbers that are being reported, when you put all these polls together are higher than some of the folks who were on the debate stage last night.
Justin Brady: I want to get onto 9/11 a little bit. I want to give you an opportunity to talk to Iowans. But briefly, military spending. I hear a lot from people in the military. It kind of makes your jaw hit the floor, how much waste there is. I’ve heard stories of people, well, we need to keep our budget, so everybody buries your ammunition or just shoot it in the side of the hill as fast as you can so we don’t lose our budget.
Tulsi Gabbard: Yeah.
Justin Brady: You’ve talked about bringing our troops home. Would we see a more Libertarian plan here where all the troops come home? And would you cut the military budget down in half because of that?
Tulsi Gabbard: Yeah. See, again, this is about how we approach these challenges and decisions, to me, with just a very common-sense realist approach. Some of the examples you’ve heard of, I’ve lived through as well. You know, we’re coming to the end of of the fiscal year and you’ve got your supply sergeant who says, hey, we’ve got X number of dollars, let’s say there’s $100,000 leftover, where if we don’t spend this money before the end of the fiscal year then they’re going to cut our budget for next year when there’s this thing we really got to by next year that we need to have within the budget. So the system itself is not set up for rewarding fiscal responsibility.
Justin Brady: Correct.
Tulsi Gabbard: Instead it incentivizes the opposite, where you’ve got a supply sergeant, a company commander saying, oh my God, how are we going to spend this money? What do we need? Hey everybody, give me your wishlist. It’s not actually serving the needs of troops in that unit, nor is it serving the interest of the American taxpayer.
Justin Brady: So would you chop that budget down 30%, 50%?
Tulsi Gabbard: Well, I would. I would. And I’m not going to use an arbitrary number. I think our defense budget is bloated. I’ve made it a focal point of my campaign, coming from my background, serving as a soldier now for over 16 years in the Army National Guard, deploying twice in the Middle East, as well as my experience in Congress serving on the Armed Services Committee, building that policy. The Foreign Affairs Committee, the Homeland Security Committee, to come in and say, first of all, we need to end these wasteful, counterproductive regime change wars. These are wars that have cost us as Americans, as service members, thousands of lives. Thousands of my brothers and sisters in uniform have lost their lives in these wars. Countless more have lost limbs, come home with both visible and invisible wounds. There’s been a cost that’s taken a toll on every single taxpayer in this country. Over $6 trillion that have come out of our pockets, out of our schools, out of our health care system, out of our roads, bridges, dams, levees. Needs that our people have are not being met because this is where our money is going.
Justin Brady: Totally agree. We’re going to have just a little bit more time with you before you get out of here, next on News Radio.
Justin Brady: I’m Justin Brady. Thank you very much for joining me. We’re still joining with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is running for president. And I want to give you the remainder of this segment just to talk to Iowans. And of course, you got in the military because of 9/11 as well.
Tulsi Gabbard: I did. You know, we just observed the 18th anniversary of that fateful day when Al-Qaeda attacked our country and took thousands of people’s lives. And for me, after that attack, like so many Americans across this country, I made the decision at that point to dedicate my life to serve and protect and defend our country, the American people and our freedoms and enlisted in the Army to do so. The reality is that our leaders failed us. After 9/11, instead of focusing one-pointedly on going after Al-Qaeda, our leaders started a whole series of these regime-change wars that we just talked about a few minutes ago. Wars that have cost us dearly as the American people. Cost our troops, our veterans, costs us as taxpayers trillions of dollars. Caused pain, suffering and death in the countries where we’ve waged these wars, and led us to the point where Al-Qaeda is stronger now than they were on 9/11.
Tulsi Gabbard: So this has been a central point of my campaign, bringing the experience that I have both in Congress and as a soldier, focusing on the need for change in our foreign policy because our foreign policy is directly connected to our domestic policy. Now, we didn’t have much time to get into this, but how do we pay for things that people need? This is why it’s central to end these wasteful regime change wars. Make sure we have a strong, ready, capable military to protect and defend our country, honor our troops by only sending them on missions that are truly worthy of their sacrifice, and redirect those resources on serving the needs of the American people here at home.
Justin Brady: Tulsi, thank you so much for coming in here. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is running for president. I’m Justin Brady.
<End of Interview>