U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, one of nearly two dozen Democrats who have tossed hats in the 2020 presidential election ring, stopped by Malibu on Mother’s Day, May 12, to secure coastal supporters early on in the race.

The event, hosted by the Malibu Democratic Club and Pacific Palisades Democratic Club, saw a mixed crowd of locals and visitors of various demographics, all there to hear Gabbard’s stances. 

The event kicked off with words from presidents of both clubs, Malibu Mayor Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner and Malibu entrepreneur Smita Bagla. Bagla, with her husband Gunjan, were the two who originally brought the idea of bringing the representative to Malibu—or as Smita called it, “Hawaii on the mainland”—to Malibu Dems President Jane Albrecht. 

“I really admire your opposition to the oppressive countries like Saudi Arabia and your vigorous support of diverse democracies like India, where I am originally from,” Smita said, later concluding: “So today, on Mother’s Day, as we celebrate womanhood, I wish you all the luck as the woman president who will save us from unnecessary wars.”

Tulsi Gabbard

Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard greets supporters at the Malibu Library.

Saving the United States from unnecessary wars—“to end those wasteful regime-change wars,” as Gabbard stated—is currently the bedrock of her bid for president.

“The fact of the matter is, unless we end these wasteful regime-change wars, unless we work to end this new Cold War, we will not have the resources that we need to fix our crumbling infrastructure,” she said. “This is why I’m running for president.”

Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, is one of three hopefuls under the age of 40 in the candidate pool. Gabbard has already achieved notable “firsts” as a politician—she is the first American Samoan and first Hindu person elected to Congress. In addition, she was the first of two female combat veterans to be elected and prior to that—the youngest woman ever to be elected to state legislature in the U.S. at age 21.

If she were elected as commander-in-chief, she would be the youngest person ever—and the first woman—elected to the office.

During the 2016 race, she made headlines for resigning as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in order to endorse U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders as the party’s nominee. The next year, she met with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, sparking controversy back home. Al-Assad, who has been in power for nearly two decades, is considered a war criminal for crimes against the Syrian people. She later justified the meeting as peace through reaching out and having dialogue, something she touched upon at the May 12 meet and greet event.

Throughout her Malibu speech and Q&A, she sought to separate herself from the “shadow cast by self-serving politicians, greedy corporations, [and] foreign countries” in every answer delivered; she often invoked the Gettysburg Address in reference to a government by the people, for the people.

Gabbard touched on a number of hot-button issues, including climate change, nuclear power, the “failed” war on drugs and the legalization of marijuana. Ironically, Malibu city council members—including Wagner—voiced opposition to recreational marijuana and its delivery here in Malibu a little more than a year ago.

When asked by Alpesh Patel, who flew in from London for the event, about creating stability in the Middle East, Gabbard pivoted back to her anti-war stance and said she would “end those wasteful regime-change wars.”

After the event, the representative was escorted to western Malibu in a caravan led by Wagner and Council Member Mikke Pierson. 

The two, with Malibu father and son Richard and Keegan Gibbs, described what happened and problems faced during the Woolsey Fire.

Tulsi Gabbard

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard hears Woolsey Fire experiences from locals, including Keegan Gibbs (second from right) and Mailbu Council Member Mikke Pierson (right)

Reflecting on the fire, Gabbard said, “You’re still dealing with trying to rebuild but the attention of those who are in a position to help this has moved on. That’s wrong.”

Currently, the representative has qualified for the DNC-hosted presidential debates, with the first one scheduled for the end of June. Her campaign was able to reach the DNC requirements, which include registering at least one percent or more in three qualified polls and raising donations from 65,000 donors (with at least 200 unique donors from 20 states).

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