Tonight was American Experiment’s Fall Briefing, and, as Scott previewed, Tulsi Gabbard was our keynote speaker. I looked forward both to meeting and to hearing her, as she is one of the most interesting figures on our political scene. And, of course, the timing was fortuitous with Gabbard having just departed the Democratic Party.
So, what did I think of her? I was blown away. Our audience was, too. Some observations:
* Starting with first impressions, Tulsi (as she said I should call her) is a bit taller than I expected. She is friendly and professional. She is obviously an attractive woman, but glamour is not her style. She is a serious person.
* Tulsi is very smart. She is one of the best speakers I have seen in a long time. I expected her speech to be more or less a reprise of the 28-minute podcast she recorded, explaining why she left the Democratic Party. But, while of course the themes overlapped, her speech tonight was original and different. She delivered her speech extemporaneously and made great contact with the audience. It was a highly impressive performance.
* Tulsi does her homework. She read the American Experiment web site this morning, and worked several references to work we are doing into her speech, and into her answer to a question. Once again, smart.
* She is remarkably friendly and sociable. She chatted with everyone who came through the photo line and, after her speech, stayed to talk and pose for more pictures with a great many people. Her interest in people is obviously genuine, and I assess her as a highly authentic politician.
* After Tulsi finished her speech, I started off by asking her some questions, after which we turned it over to questions from the audience.
I began by asking about her plans for the future: does she plan to run for office again? Will she join the Republican Party? Not surprisingly, she wasn’t ready to answer those questions. She said she has issues with Republicans, too, who support the same status quo in Washington that so many Democrats do. Between now and the election, she is criss-crossing the country on behalf of a number of candidates. She said she would send me a list of the candidates she is supporting, but I will be surprised if any of them are Democrats given her divorce from that party.
* We had an exchange about her characterization of Democrats as warmongers–something that I said it is hard for those of us who came of age in the Vietnam era to wrap our heads around. Her view of war is largely shaped by her own tours of duty in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. She was eloquent about that. She is a skeptic about our role in Ukraine, and defended that position ably. And her commitment to our military continues, as she is now a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.
* It is hard to overstate how positively our audience responded to Tulsi. I had thought her views might be a little too “based” for some of our people, but that didn’t seem to be the case. I think her patriotism, intelligence and good will are so obvious that people are willing to cut her slack if they disagree on an issue or two. And maybe those disagreements are fewer than I thought.
* I should add that former talk radio host, House member and Senate candidate Jason Lewis introduced Tulsi, with whom he served in Congress. Jason, a good friend, was great as always. He has written a new book called Party Animal: The Truth About President Trump, Power Politics & the Partisan Press. I haven’t read it yet, but I am sure it is good, not least because I, and Power Line, merit a mention or two. Jason is an acute observer of the political scene and his thoughts on his time in Washington will be well worth reading.
So what is the bottom line? Based on the time we spent with her tonight, I would vote for Tulsi Gabbard for any office. I think my wife would, too. Tulsi is a serious politician in the same way that Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo are serious politicians, and in addition, she brings a warmth and likability that are a real asset.
I will likely have more to say about Gabbard’s views on specific issues in due course, but for now those are my big-picture impressions.
Postscript: Our Fall Briefing was held, as it was last year, at the Sovereign Estate Winery in Waconia, Minnesota. It is a gorgeous venue, and the owners are friends and allies. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful place to spend an afternoon and evening in October. This photo is of my wife Loree and me with Tulsi Gabbard; you can see Lake Waconia in the background.
American Experiment is the principal conservative organization in Minnesota, a key battleground state in which our country’s future is being fought out. We have fun–I am in favor of fun–but we are deadly serious about changing the direction of our state and our nation.
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