On Friday, Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) announced she would run for president in 2020.In an interview with CNN’s Van Jones that will air on Saturday night, Gabbard stated, “I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week.”
She added, “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 health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change would be central to her message, but cited one factor as paramount, asserting, “There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace. Look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement.”
Gabbard served in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and was later deployed to Kuwait. She had already served in the Hawaii House of Representatives. She was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2013.
Since being elected to the House, Gabbard became the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, but left the post so she could endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 presidential nomination; she gave the nominating speech putting his name forward at the 2016 national convention. She also endorsed Keith Ellision for DNC chair in 2017.
Rania Batrice, who was a deputy campaign manager for Sanders in 2016, said she will be Gabbard’s campaign manager.
In 2017, Gabbard met with Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and drew widespread criticism. She told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “Initially, I hadn’t planned on meeting him. When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it’s important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about.”
The New Yorker reported after Gabbard met with President Trump early in his administration:
Gabbard recalls that she found the meeting encouraging. “I walked out thinking that there may be some opportunity to work with this Administration to shift our foreign policy in a more positive, less destructive direction,” she said, and then paused. “Less hopeful, now.” In April, after Trump ordered an attack on a Syrian airfield, Gabbard accused him of behaving “recklessly,” and suggested that he had fallen under the influence of “war hawks.”