Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
During the third hour, Gabbard discussed her lawsuit against Hillary Clinton who claimed she was a Russian spy and how she’s been a target of the corporate media since she announced her campaign for president. Towards the end of the segment, she expressed her support for Bernie Sanders should he become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Leahy: We have on our microphones and welcome to The Tennessee Star Report Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii. Who’s a presidential candidate for president. Welcome, Representative Gabbard.
Gabbard: Aloha. Thanks for having me on your show today.
Leahy: What a great way to say hello. Aloha.
Gabbard: There you go.
Leahy: I want to start off, Representative Gabbard, you’re already my favorite Democratic candidate for president because you filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton last month alleged that her insinuation that you are a “Russian asset” has harmed your reputation and ongoing presidential campaign. You’re a military veteran and I think you currently still serve in the military. Tell us what’s going on with that lawsuit.
Gabbard: Well your exactly right first of all. To levy such a baseless terrible accusation coming from someone who has an incredible platform of influence. Is the former Secretary of State. Former Democratic nominee for president. Former first lady. Former US Senator.
It directly devalues who I am as a person like every other service member I’ve dedicated my life in service to our country and taken that oath of loyalty both as a soldier and a member of Congress. So her accusations that I’m somehow a traitor to my country it speaks to the very essence of who I am and what my life is about.
And not just for myself but for every other service member. This kind of de-valuing of that service and sacrifice cannot go unchecked, which is why I filed this lawsuit. The papers have been served. And I believe the first court date to start this process has been set here in a few weeks in March.
Leahy: We heard from reports for a while that she was hiding from service. Is that true?
Gabbard: That’s what I heard. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: So you’re suing for 50 million dollars in damages? What do your attorneys say is the likelihood that you would win this case? What’s the probability of that?
Gabbard: Well, they took the case because they see how important it is. You never know how these things are going to go. They are not going to give any predictions at this point because it’s still very early on in the process. But they understood as I do to not allow this kind of action to go unaccounted for.
Leahy: Are you physically right now in South Carolina? I know there’s a primary there on Saturday.
Gabbard: I’m actually in Virginia. We are on the road right now literally as we speak headed to a town hall in Sterling, Virginia. I will be headed to South Carolina tonight. And then continuing to move on as we focus not only on South Carolina but on the Super Tuesday states.
Leahy: So Virginia is a Super Tuesday state. As well as California, Texas, and Tennessee. Are you coming to Tennessee?
Gabbard: We’re trying to make our way there.
Leahy: We have a place for you in the studio here. Just come on in. We’d be happy to talk to you in the studio.
Gabbard: I appreciate it.
Leahy: Let me ask you a policy question. If you are elected president, this is a refugee resettlement question. A big issue here in Tennessee. The Republican governor said yes to more refugees. The state legislature has filed a lawsuit back in 2016-2017, saying we don’t want refugees coming in here because we don’t want to have to pay for them without our approval.
President Trump has reduced the number of refugees coming in the fiscal year 2020 to 18,000. If elected president Representative Gabbard, what will you set the annual refugee cap at? What level would you set it at?
Gabbard: It would be irresponsible for me to give you or your listeners an arbitrary number. It requires an honest and realistic assessment of the need. On the resources that we have to offer both nationally as well as for those states that are hosting refugees in our country. That’s really how I would determine what cap and what number would be on this.
Leahy: So Bloomberg has said 125,000. Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders have said 110,000. You haven’t thought about that issue? You don’t have a number in your mind?
Gabbard: I have thought about it of course. I think that the number currently is too low, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it should be this number or that number without at that point in time being able to gather all the date and information, and resources necessary to make that informed decision. I think setting out an arbitrary number that’s uninformed by that doesn’t make sense.
Leahy: OK. But it would be more than 18,000 a year is what you’re saying?
Gabbard: If you look at where we have been in the past, it is a drastic drastic reduction that I think we can afford to and we should see how we can do more.
Leahy: OK. My view just so you know, and our listeners, I think zero should be the number for a number of reasons. But we’ll talk about that when you come back to the studio. Let’s talk about this issue. You seem like a pretty sane person for a Democrat really. And very likable.
Gabbard: I’ll take those compliments. (Leahy and Gabbard laugh)
Leahy: You know, you’re playing for the other team, but you are a nice person with some good ideas. But you are not getting any traction. You’re not in the top five anywhere or the top six. Have you thought about withdrawing from the presidential race?
Gabbard: Ah, no. Not at this time. I’m still focused on continuing to work through those obstacles that the corporate media has set before us in trying to almost completely blackout our campaign and smear my character. Something that began the very first day I started running for president. And really just taking my message directly to voters who ultimately will decide. We have to remember that they are the ones that will decide this.
Leahy: You know your policies seem economically pretty progressive. But in other regards, you appeal to moderates. Have you thought about switching parties and becoming a Republican?
Gabbard: No I haven’t. I think really this is about focusing, the approach I’ve always taken throughout my time in politics in the statehouse, and city council and Hawaii at looking at problems and how do we solve them.
There are a lot of good ideas that come from all different backgrounds and party affiliations. As long as we are putting that mission of service first, then that’s how we can actually get to that best solution and deliver results for the people.
Leahy: If Bernie Sanders is the nominee of the Democrat Party will you endorse and support him over Donald Trump?
Gabbard: As I said, I’m still working towards being that Democratic nominee. If for some reason I am not, and it is Bernie Sanders then I will support him.
Leahy: Really? Even though he’s basically a communist.
Gabbard: He’s not a communist.
Leahy: He’s not a communist? He’s certainly not a Democrat really is he?
Gabbard: I’m really not attached to these different labels. I agree with Bernie on some things and disagree with him on others. What I focus on most is saying how do we break through the reality of a government of by and for the powerful elite that is causing a lot of problems for everyday Americans across the country.
I think the key here is that we figure out even though as we may agree to disagree as you and I do I’m sure on different issues. We come together and say we are all Americans and we have to figure out how we can bridge these divides. To be able to start to make progress, move forward, and solve problems.
Leahy: So Bernie Sanders is somebody who you can bridge divides and reach out to people who he has characterized supporters of Donald Trump as racists and bigots? He doesn’t like half of the country. How is that reaching out?
Gabbard: Once again, I’m focused on my campaign and I’ll tell you what we’re doing already throughout the entire country. Every town hall we have we have Democrats, Republicans, and Independents coming together willing to set aside differences in the interest of our country.
In the interest of sharing different perspectives to bring about the kind of positive change that we need to see. That’s something that I’m committed to doing moving forward whether I’m the Democratic nominee or not.
Leahy: So I’ll just tell you and you know this but you are not going to be the Democratic nominee. But the question that I have for you. You’re not running again for Congress. What will you do if you’re not the Democratic nominee? Where does your career go from here Representative Gabbard?
Gabbard: This has never been about politics or a political career. And that’s not the way that I approach my life and the decisions that I’m making. I’m running for president to bring about a real sea change in our foreign policy that says we’ve got to end these wasteful regime change wars. Going and toppling dictators in other countries.
The follow on nation-building missions. This new Cold War nuclear arms race. Wars that have not made us any safer and have cost us tremendously in American lives and taxpayer dollars.
And no matter what position or platform I have, I’m going to continue working towards those two objectives. Bringing about change in our foreign policy and working to heal the divide that we have in our country.
Leahy: Representative Tulsi Gabbard thank you so much. Come back. You’ve got a few more days of the Democratic primary. We’ll have a place here in the studio in Nashville for you.
Gabbard: OK. Have a great day. Thank you so much.
Listen to the third hour here:
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