Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), an Iraq War veteran who made history in 2012 as the first Hindu elected to Congress, said Friday she will run for president in 2020.
“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” Gabbard told CNN’s Van Jones during an interview to air Saturday. “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.”
Tulsi, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said her campaign platform will address health care, climate change, and criminal justice reform.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she will run for president in 2020. "I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," the Hawaii Democrat and Iraq War veteran told CNN's @VanJones68 https://t.co/5BzVi2JMFq pic.twitter.com/nNNmGCED5C
— CNN (@CNN) January 11, 2019
“There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace,” she continued. “I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement.”
Gabbard’s announcement comes after the progressive congresswoman was the headline speaker at a December meet-and-greet with Democrat activists in Exeter, New Hampshire, where she told local reporters that a White House bid was on the table. “I’m seriously thinking of how I can best be of service to our country,” she told Concord Monitor News reporter Paul Steinhauser before meeting with Rockingham County Democrats.
She endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for president in 2016.
In November, the Hawaii Democrat garnered headlines for criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision not to further punish Saudi Arabia over the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.
“It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event,” President Trump said of the killing. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t.” In response, Gabbard wrote on Twitter that “being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not ‘America First.’”
A staunch anti-war voice in Congress, Gabbard has called for the U.S. to halt further involvement in Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen, describing the civil war as a humanitarian crisis. “It is long overdue that we end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia’s atrocities,” Gabbard said of the hot button issue. “We must end all U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen now.”
Last year, Gabbard came under fire for an impromptu meeting with Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad during what she described as a fact-finding trip to discuss possible solutions to end the war in Syria.
Gabbard enters a 2020 Democrat primary field which will likely go into double-digits. On New Year’s Eve, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was the first serious Democrat presidential contender to launch a White House exploratory committee. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) are also reportedly considering running for president.
Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens dismissed Gabbard’s White House announcement, saying that the Hawaii Democrat has no voter base. “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 Ahrens.