Tulsi Gabbard reiterates call for Puerto Rico governor to step down

Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a presidential candidate, reiterated her call for the governor of Puerto Rico to step down over a series of scandals that have sparked massive protests in the island’s capital.

“From what I heard from them, they’re not going anywhere. You’re going to continue to see these protests until the governor resigns,” Gabbard, who traveled to Puerto Rico to join the protesters on Saturday, told CBSN’s “Red & Blue” on Monday.

Demands for Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation began after a non-profit journalism group published more than 800 pages of leaked private messages, in which Rosselló and his top lieutenants made openly sexist and homophobic remarks against political opponents, journalists and many others. 

Tensions escalated on Sunday when Rosselló announced he will not seek reelection next year but plans on serving the remainder of his term. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets Monday in response.

Gabbard said demonstrators were responding to “long-standing” corruption from the Puerto Rican government. She added that the devastation from Hurricane Maria is still at the forefront of people’s minds, and they will not back down until their demands for the governor’s resignation are met.

She called on the other 2020 presidential candidates to travel to Puerto Rico and show their support for the protesters, particularly because Rosselló is a member of the Democratic Party, in addition to the island’s New Progressive Party.

“One of us will be elected and we will be the leader of our party. And we have to show the strength, and courage, and leadership to call out corruption, even when it’s happening within our own ranks, because this is about putting people first,” she said.     

Gabbard also addressed the months of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Iraq war veteran warned that President Trump is pushing the U.S. towards a war in Iran that will be far costlier than the conflict in Iraq. 

“The crisis that we’re facing as we edge closer and closer to war is a crisis of Donald Trump’s creation,” Gabbard said. 

Iran seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, following the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier. The U.K. has called for the release of the tanker and its crew. 

Gabbard noted the U.S. has been in Afghanistan for “too long” with a “heavy price” to pay for the decades-long conflict. 

Gabbard will join the nine other presidential candidates on the debate stage on July 31. She said she is looking forward to having the platform to share her experiences as a veteran and lawmaker. 

“The most important responsibility that any president has is to serve as commander-in-chief. And what we’re seeing here with this president, and with previous presidents, is how dangerous it is when you have someone in that role who is inexperienced, who lacks any foreign policy background and who lacks an understanding about the consequences of the decisions that are made,” Gabbard said. 

Responding to Mr. Trump’s attacks against four Democratic members of Congress known as “The Squad,” Gabbard accused the president of exploiting racial tensions to tear the country apart. 

She added the president’s attacks “point to a deeper-seated problem that Donald Trump thinks he is America. And that if you are anti-Trump, then you are somehow anti-American. And this attitude and this mindset that he has really undermines the very values and freedoms that we cherish in this country.”

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