Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has announced that she will be running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and an outspoken critic of US ‘regime change’ policy in Syria, currently serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She is also the first American Samoan and the first Hindu member of Congress.
“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” Gabbard told CNN’s Van Jones on Friday evening.
She added that “the issue of war and peace” would be the main focus of her campaign.
“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,” she said, mentioning healthcare access, criminal justice reform and climate change as her key platform issues.
There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace.
Gabbard was elected to Congress in 2012 and currently serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She served in a medical unit of the Hawaii National Guard and was deployed in Kuwait and Iraq.
In 2016, Gabbard resigned as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), after endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. Sanders eventually lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton, who went on to lose the election to Donald Trump.
Due to her antiwar stance in Syria, Gabbard was at one point rumored to be a potential candidate to head Trump’s State Department, and even met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in November 2016, but nothing came of it. In January 2017, she traveled to Syria on a fact-finding trip, outraging the Washington establishment. She has also proposed a bill to outlaw US weapons sales to terrorists.
Gabbard first sparked rumors of a 2020 run in December, when she toured Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to host nationwide party primary elections.
Inspired by the party’s strong showing in the November midterms, a number of Democrats are eager to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) announced on New Year’s Eve that she was forming a presidential exploratory committee. Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama administration, has also toured Iowa and is expected to announce his candidacy this weekend.
It is unclear whether Gabbard will get much traction among the establishment Democrats, who she has frequently disagreed with on foreign policy issues.