Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces She's Running For President In 2020

Jan 11, 2019
Originally published on January 11, 2019 8:43 pm

Updated at 8:43 p.m. ET

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, she told CNN in an interview.

"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," Gabbard said in an interview set to air Saturday on the network's The Van Jones Show.

"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace. I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement," which will come within the next week, Gabbard said.

Foreign policy is an issue where Gabbard has staked out somewhat controversial positions. She's opposed to military intervention, and drew criticism in 2017 for meeting during a secret trip with Syrian President Bashar Assad whose oppressive regime has allegedly used chemical weapons on its own people.

"Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria," she told CNN's Jake Tapper when she returned from her trip. "In order for any peace agreement — in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him."

President Trump has signaled he plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, a move which was opposed by some military advisers and contributed to the resignation of former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

The 37-year-old Gabbard was a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign in 2016, resigning her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to endorse him. Sanders is also considering another White House bid in 2020. Gabbard was also critical of what she saw as then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz's preferential treatment of eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, and hit her for scheduling only six primary debates.

Republicans seized on Gabbard's announcement, highlighting that she's been a polarizing figure even within her own party.

"Tulsi Gabbard has an even bigger problem than her lack of experience – it's that she has no base of support. Liberals think she's too conservative, conservatives think she's too liberal, and just about everyone thinks her coziness with Bashar al-Assad is disturbing," said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens in a statement.

First elected to Congress in 2012, Gabbard is an Army National Guard veteran who served in Iraq, making her one of the first two female combat veterans ever to serve in Congress. She is also the first Hindu ever elected to Congress.

Gabbard joins a growing list of Democrats who are seeking to challenge Trump next year. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has already announced she has set up a 2020 exploratory committee, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is expected to announce his campaign on Saturday. At least a dozen other major Democrats are also weighing bids.

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