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Tulsi Gabbard answers debate question about equal pay by citing 9/11

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2020 Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii used her opening statement on the first night of the Democratic primary debate to discuss 9/11 and foreign affairs — even though she was asked a question about equal pay.

Debate moderator Lester Holt first posed the question to former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, asking, “what would you do to ensure that women are paid fairly in this country?” In response, Castro said he would pass the Equal Rights Amendment and pursue legislation ensuring women are paid equally.

When it was Gabbard’s turn to answer the question, however, she pivoted from equal pay to national security and her experience enlisting in the army following 9/11.

“I know the importance of our national security as well as the high cost of war and for too long our leaders have failed us, taking us from one regime change to the next, leading us into an arms race, costing trillions of our hard earned taxpayer dollars and countless lives,” she said.

“This insanity must end. As president I will take your taxpayer dollars and invest those dollars into serving your needs, things like healthcare, a green economy, good paying jobs, protecting our environment, and so much more.”

Following an awkward silence, moderator José Diaz-Balart quickly shifted gears to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, asking him about income inequality.

Tulsi’s campaign has centered on foreign policy. She is staunchly anti-interventionist and opposed to what she calls “regime change wars.” She has also faced criticism after traveling to Syria in 2017 to meet with President Bashar al-Assad.

While she emphasized her military experience, she didn’t mention anything about the question she was asked to kick off the night.

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