Tulsi talks story

LIHUE — Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was the featured speaker at the Kauai Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday.

The event, which was held at the Kauai Marriott Resort in Lihue, drew a large crowd of residents who came to hear Kauai’s congresswoman give an update on her work in Washington, D.C.

And she did not disappoint — Gabbard demonstrated that she has a solid command of both foreign and domestic policy as she went through a list of some of the most pressing issues before Congress.

And she added she would run for vice president, if asked.

But first, on the proposed nuclear deal with Iran:

“I have not come to a decision yet on this deal” Gabbard said, while laying out the pros and cons of both sides of the issue for the audience. But, “the reality is if this deal is voted down, we do not just revert to the status quo” and sanctions will not remain in place, she said.

Gabbard said she expects a resolution to block the deal to pass and that the president will then veto it, meaning it will be up to the Senate to override the veto.

The congresswoman said that she will be speaking with the president’s chief of staff on Friday to go over her questions and concerns before making a decision.

On how to defeat ISIS:

Gabbard, a military veteran who served in Iraq, said that ground troops would not work because it’s not a sustainable solution. She added that if a large increase in ground troops were to happen, that would be a strategic mistake because it would play into ISIS’s rhetoric and would help them recruit more people to their cause.

“This is not just a military battle… there is a political component,” Gabbard said, as she voiced support for the three-state solution previously proposed by Vice President Joe Biden, that would see Iraq split into three separate regions based on ethnic groups.

On domestic issues, Gabbard said that she expects Congress to again pass a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down. She also expressed optimism that Republicans and Democrats would be able to find a bipartisan compromise to approve a federal highway funding bill.

Specific to Hawaii, Gabbard talked about her successful efforts to get additional funding in the farm bill to fight invasive species, and her efforts to remove increased airport security fees for Hawaii and Alaska, “two states where airline travel is a requirement.”

The biggest news item of the day may have been in response to a question from The Garden Island:

Would she be willing to run for vice president in the 2016 election?

Gabbard, who turns 35 next year (the minimum age required under the Constitution to serve as president) hesitated for a moment, then gave a very clear, direct, and firm answer:

“I would, because the question that I’ve always asked myself is, where can I be in a position to make the most positive impact? That’s what motivated me to run for office at 21.”

And it is what motivated her to leave office to deploy with the military, she added. The congresswoman said that future decisions will be made in that context.

Gabbard, who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, said that no one has talked to her about this yet.

One omission from her speech is that Gabbard did not take the opportunity to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the business-oriented crowd, but she told The Garden Island following her speech that her position in opposition to the TPP is already well known.

While on-island, Gabbard also met with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board members, students who are applying for military academies, and with constituents.

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