U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), a 2020 presidential candidate, spoke out against the politics of division during a Politics and Eggs event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Thursday.
"We're connected, regardless of where we come from — our race, religion, orientation — all of these different things that in this current political climate are too often used as wedges to divide us," Gabbard told an audience at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Gabbard has been criticized for past efforts to block the legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii. She released a video apologizing for advocating against gay rights shortly after launching her campaign in January.
The 38-year-old began by explaining the origin of "aloha," a common greeting in the state she represents. Gabbard said that among other things, aloha means that "I come to you with respect."
Gabbard is in her 16th year as a member of the Army National Guard. She recently completed her yearly two weeks of duty in a joint exercise in Indonesia with the Hawaii Air and Army National Guard and Indonesian forces.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Economist, Gabbard is polling at 3%, a figure far below leaders Joe Biden (26%) and Elizabeth Warren (22%).
Gabbard was asked if she would release her tax returns should she be elected president and if she believes a president should be required to release their tax returns.
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"Yes and yes," she said. "I don't think it needs much more explanation than that."
Gabbard is both the first Samoan American and Hindu person to serve in Congress.
Having endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016, she is part of the most progressive wing of the party, yet her military background adds a different dimension.
"She does have wide-ranging positions," Neil LeVesque from New Hampshire’s Institute of politics at Saint Anselm College said. "Probably a little bit outside of the norm for the Democratic Party right now. But maybe that's refreshing to voters."
Gabbard, who did not qualify for the third debate Sept. 12 in Houston, said she is disappointed in what she calls a "a lack of transparency" in the DNC's criteria. She does not however, call it a significant hit on her campaign going forward.
"It's a minor setback but it's not one that can't be overcome," she said.
Gabbard will campaign in New Hampshire through Saturday when she will take her message to the state's Democratic Convention in Manchester.