By Devyani Chhetri
BU News Service
MANCHESTER, N.H – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, unfazed by the low numbers in the first primary of the election season, said she was ready to fight it out in South Carolina later this month.
“They have tried to erase us from this election but we stand strong,” Gabbard said to her volunteers, who grew emotional as the night went on. “We are still here … This is a testament to every single one of you.”
Gabbard secured about 3% of New Hampshire votes, but her volunteers are optimistic about the congresswoman’s chances.
“She’s going all the way to the Democratic National Convention,” said David Skrabel, 36, who has been involved with Gabbard’s campaign for nearly a year.
Gabbard’s anti-war and anti-regime stance as a veteran in a state with about 101,593 veterans can pull in voters – whether they be conservative Democrats or Ron Paul-inspired libertarians, said Skrabel, 36.
“[New Hampshire voters] also agree that even if they’re coming from a different spot, trillions and trillions of dollars are wasted in war,” he said.
Skrabel believes that while Gabbard’s opponents, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, make a compelling case for domestic policy, nothing can be achieved without dismantling the country’s “military industrial complex” that advocates war and violence.
Back in 2016, Skrabel supported Sanders. Four years later, he feels that Gabbard’s policies are more relevant to voters who are undeclared and haven’t picked a party.
“Tulsi can get votes Bernie can’t because he’s a self-described socialist,” he said. “She always fights for doing the right thing and she’s strong,” he said. “Back in 2016, she let go of her post in the Democratic National Committee to endorse Bernie.”
Gabbard also hasn’t shied away from commenting on her competitors’ lack of foreign policy experience.
In a November 2019 debate, Gabbard called out former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, for his support in sending American troops into Mexico to fight drug cartels.
Buttigieg’s communication team later tweeted a partial transcript of the statement, which said that he would do it in the context of a partnership with security cooperation between Mexico and the U.S.
Gabbard has consistently been critical of the current White House administration. At Friday’s McIntyre-Shaheen Democratic Party dinner Gabbard, who spoke last, said that she wanted to bring a soldier’s values to the White House and attach integrity to service.
Her criticism has been a motivating factor for her volunteers. For Dack Rouleau, 28, it was a ‘provocative’ tweet about President Trump’s relationship with Saudi Arabia that got his attention.
Gabbard has also showcased an unambiguous supportive stance for veterans, he said.
“When I saw that I thought, yes, I can get on board with this person,” he said.
As Gabbard neared the end of her New Hampshire campaign, Rouleau was among the volunteers standing in the front with a lei around his neck.
“I’ve been deployed twice to the Middle East,” Gabbard said to the crowd Rouleau was a part of. “I’ve experienced the reality of knowing that death can come any moment. I’ve got nothing to fear from Donald Trump.”