EXETER, New Hampshire — A second trip in the past three months by Tulsi Gabbard to the state that holds the first-in-the-nation presidential primary is sparking more speculation that the congresswoman from Hawaii is seriously mulling a run for the Democratic nomination.
“I’m seriously thinking of how I can best be of service to our country,” Gabbard told the Portsmouth Herald Sunday, moments before headlining a meet and greet with party activists packed into the Rockingham County Democrats headquarters in Exeter.
But the progressive lawmaker, who was just re-elected to a fourth-term representing Hawaii’s Second Congressional District, added that she didn’t have any timetable for deciding on a White House run.
Speaking to the Democratic activists, she took indirect aim at Republican President Donald Trump, saying, “it is painful and disheartening to me to see the direction of our country today. To see how much divisiveness and hatred is being fomented by those who wish to tear us apart.”
And Gabbard preached the power of love in politics, noting that there is “no force more powerful than love.”
“When we start from this foundation of love, inspired by this love, then we can truly have that strength and that power to be able to take on the tough challenges that are before us,” she added.
Gabbard, who first won election to the Hawaii legislature at age 21, later became the first Hindu to serve in Congress. Now 37, she’s considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.
She’s also a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard who served two tours of duty in the Middle East. But she has described herself as a leading congressional advocate for peace.
“Since 9/11 alone, we have spent trillions of your tax payer dollars to pay for these regime change wars, these unnecessary wars of choice that have been counterproductive in every single way, making it so that we don’t have those resources to address the very real and urgent and pressing needs of the people of our communities right at home,” she said during a nearly one-hour long question-and-answer session with the crowd.
Gabbard highlighted her strong support for the Medicare for all bill in the House of Representatives and for her efforts to get big money out of politics.
Looking to January, when the Democrats will take the majority in the House of Representatives, she said that “ending Citizens United continues to be an issue and now the Democrats are in the majority in the House, we have an opportunity to put forward legislation we’ve never been able to bring to the House floor before to address that.”
Rockingham Democrats chair Larry Drake said if Gabbard does decide to launch a presidential campaign, she’ll definitely resonate “among certain folks.”
Gabbard’s stop in Exeter was a family affair. While she was speaking, her husband, Abraham Williams, was recording the entire event with a camera.
While in New Hampshire, Gabbard also spoke on Saturday evening at a forum in Concord sponsored by the progressive group Rights and Democracy NH. And she met in Manchester Sunday morning with members of the New Hampshire Young Democrats.
Before arriving in New Hampshire, Gabbard was in Vermont, where she took part in a progressive ideas forum hosted by the Sanders Institute, which was founded by Jean O’Meara Sanders, the wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Gabbard was a big supporter of Sanders’ 2016 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Gabbard said that both the independent senator “and Jane are good friends and I was really happy to be a part of such an important conversation, bringing together leaders from all across the country, working on a whole host of issues from housing to health care to the opioid crisis, to poverty, to protecting our planet to so many more.”