LONDONDERRY — Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, one of nearly 20 candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, promised she will provide “the right kind of leadership” for America and not serve “the few, the rich and the powerful.”

The federal government should put “people first,” the candidate from Hawaii told about 50 or so people who crowded into the Rockingham County Democratic regional office at 2 Litchfield Road for the Oct. 1 town hall-style visit.

“How many of you believe this is the government we have?” she asked. Not a single hand was raised.

Gabbard, first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012, is an Army veteran who has served two tours in Iraq and Kuwait. In Iraq, she was assigned to a medical unit in a combat zone.

Gabbard, a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, said it’s time for the United States to stop waging “wasteful wars” aimed at changing regimes.

“Six trillion dollars have been spent on counter-productive wars since 9/11,” she said.

“I know the cost of war,” she said. “War must be waged only as the last resort.” She criticized the new cold war with Russia and China, warning that this has brought the world too close to nuclear conflict.

If she is elected president, Gabbard said she will seek a summit conference with the leaders of Russia and China to end the drift toward war.

During her campaign travels, Gabbard said voters have identified health care as “the issue of greatest concern.” Current policies, she said, benefit the large insurance companies and pharmaceutical firms, often called “big pharma.”

As an example, she said Medicare is not allowed to negotiate lower drug prices. She promised to work to change that if she’s elected.

Gabbard supports Medicare for all. Americans should not be denied medical care “because they don’t have enough money,” she said.

On environmental issues, she said the United States needs to come to grips with climate change. People should be able to drink clean water and breathe clean air, she said.

Fred Walsh, 72, a disabled veteran who served in Vietnam with the Air Force, shared his frustrations with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. During a trip to a veterans hospital, “they did absolutely nothing” for him, he said.

“They don’t take care of you,” he said. Gabbard, who seemed visibly moved by Walsh’s plight, hugged him and reiterated her pledge to obtain better care for veterans.

“She seems sincere,” Walsh said later.

Stephen Clements, who described himself as a “lifelong Republican,” recently moved to New Hampshire from Tennessee. Clements is also a veteran, having served in Iraq from June 2008 to September 2009 with the 46th Engineers Battalion, U.S. Army. He told Gabbard that he supports her.

“I don’t agree with her on everything,” he said, but he fully supports her opposition to “pointless wars.”

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