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U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, making a stop in Muscatine on Tuesday to promote her presidential campaign, said that if America is to find solutions to its many challenges, people at the grass-roots level must stand up and force change in Washington.

Gabbard said that getting to the heart of the problems – health care, education, small businesses, farming, infrastructure, criminal justice reform, protecting the environment, affordable housing and others – means doing something about the “self-serving politicians."

“We have corporate and special interests putting their own interests and their own profits ahead of the interests of the people,” she said.

Gabbard spoke and answered questions for about half-an-hour before about 50 people at Missipi Brewing Company.

“We are the only ones who have the power to fix this,” she said. “We are the only ones who have the ability to change and shift this power paradigm to bring that focus back to where it must be; with leaders who are putting service above self, with leaders who are focused on the interests of our people and our country and our planet first and foremost.”

In the six years she has been in Congress, Gabbard has seen “it is those who pay to play, those who can afford the high-paid lobbyists to sit around the table and write those policies that impact every single aspect of our lives.”

It has become a government, she said, “of the powerful, and by the powerful and for the powerful.”

Getting to solutions will mean listening to and considering ideas from “across the political spectrum, and that’s okay,” she said. “We can and we must come together and unite in this country inspired by that care that we have for each other, and that love for our country, in order to bring about real solutions. And we will be stronger when we come together with that mission focus.”

Gabbard said the country can provide Medicare for all as well as real criminal justice reform and end “the private prisons that are making their money on the backs of the American people.”

By becoming united, the country can rebuild its crumbling infrastructure and insure clean air and clean water for the citizens, she said, and ensure the nation is protecting the environment and the health and well-being of the citizens.

She also said it is time the U.S. end its new Cold War with China and Russia.

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