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Presidential Candidate Tulsi Gabbard Visits Richmond Ahead of Super Tuesday

Woman faces man speaking with microphone
Democratic candidate Tulsi Gabbard answered questions during a town hall in RIchmond Tuesday night. (Photo: Alan Rodriguez Espinoza/VPM)

*VPM Intern Alan Rodriguez Espinoza reported this story

Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard held a town hall in Richmond Tuesday night to build support for her presidential campaign. The event drew a large crowd primarily consisting of independent and third party voters.

The Democratic candidate kicked off the event by calling for compromise across party lines. When she asked who in the crowd was a Democrat, only a few raised their hands.

While Virginia has an open Democratic primary, a recent poll by Monmouth University shows Gabbard registering at one percent in the Commonwealth.

"Her message is about talking to people on both sides, not just one side in particular, so I think it makes a lot of sense that a lot of people ... here would be the independent thinkers that look at both issues,” said Colin Graham, a voter from Chesterfield.

Edward Delinden also attended the town hall. While he identifies as an independent, he says he voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.

“I don’t know if I’ll vote for her over Trump, honestly. I’m just checking her out -- supporting her because I like her. I think she’s very smart and real,” Delinden said.

Gabbard has focused her campaign on ending American involvement in military conflicts abroad. Fred Nichols of Chesterfield said he supports this idea.

“I appreciate her stance on the military industrial complex and the fact that she doesn’t want to keep putting billions and billions of dollars into this pointless group of weapons manufacturers,” Nichols said. “A lot of stuff could get done if we’d use even just a percentage of the amount of money we spend on the military budget back here at home.”

Gabbard spoke on a variety of issues. On healthcare, she said she supports expanding access to healthcare for all while maintaining a private choice. On gun reform, she said she supports universal background checks, and she called for unity to discuss “all the contributing effects” behind gun violence.

The congresswoman spent a majority of her time on stage discussing her non-interventionist approach to foreign policy. Gabbard is the only woman combat veteran running for the Democratic nomination.

“There’s such a strong tradition of service, men and women and veterans all across Virginia and they understand what it means to serve, what it means to put service above self and they’re hungry for leadership that will do just that,” Gabbard said after the town hall.

Gabbard held a similar event in Fairfax the previous night. She did not meet the polling or delegate thresholds necessary to qualify for the Democratic debate in Nevada.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.