Thursday, August 01, 2019
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HSTA Government Relations Committee Chair Hope McKeen asked U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) a tough question live on an ABC News national web stream following the second day of Democratic presidential debates Wednesday.
McKeen, a special education teacher at Ka Umeke Kaeo charter school in Hilo, said she watched the debate on CNN from Detroit as she evaluated all the candidates.
Interviewed live on ABCNews.com after the debate, McKeen thanked Gabbard and other candidates for “highlighting climate change in Hawaii. We will be one of the first to see this impact.”
Gabbard and several other presidential candidates, including U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, also spoke during the debate about the need for prison reform and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
McKeen said that’s an important issue, because "in Hawaii we have a high level of Native Hawaiian population that ends up in our prison system and they go through our public education system and so we want to see more support in that area.”
Gabbard appeared with McKeen and told her, “Thank you for the work that you do appreciate the work that you do as a special education teacher. My mom started out her career as a teacher, teaching special ed as well.”
ABC News anchor/reporter Devin Dwyer then asked McKeen if she wanted to ask Gabbard a question and McKeen asked, “After Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, you were the only Democrat to vote against the resolution to condemn the attacks. Do you believe Assad used chemical weapons on civilians, and if you do, why not condemn mass murder of civilians?”
Gabbard’s lengthy response did not immediately answer McKeen’s question.
“I know the cost of war in a deeply personal way,” Gabbard said. “It was something that I experienced every day during my deployment to Iraq, where I served in a field medical unit. And the very first thing I did every day was to go through a name-by-name list of every single American casualty and injury that had occurred in the previous 24 hours. Every day confronted with that high cost of war.
“So my focus has been and will always be on ending these wasteful regime-change wars and preventing more of our men and women in uniform from having to go and put their lives on the line,” Gabbard continued. “Fighting in these wars that are counterproductive that make our country less safe, that strengthen terrorist groups like Isis and Al Qaeda, just as we have seen in Iraq and Lybia and Syria. And I will do whatever is necessary to prevent more lives from being lost, even if that means meeting with dictators or adversaries because my loyalty is to the American people, keeping the American people safe and making sure that the missions we send our troops on are missions that are truly worthy of their great sacrifice.”
At that point, ABCNews reporter/anchor Devin Dwyer re-asked McKeen’s question, saying, “Do you think he used chemical weapons?”
Gabbard responded, “Look, there’s evidence that has been reported that continues to come out. I have always said that if that evidence proves that he is guilty, he should be prosecuted in the international criminal court.”
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Tags: government relations debate Tulsi Gabbard Hope McKeen presidential Syria question Assad prison reform candidate