Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the United States’ first Hindu and Samoan American Congressmember, said on Friday, January 11 that she will run for president in 2020 for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Gabbard, whose congressional district includes Honolulu, will also be one of the first Iraq War veterans to currently run in the upcoming primary alongside former West Virginia state senator Richard Ojeda. Gabbard told CNN’s Van Jones that she will make a formal presidential announcement sometime next week.
Formerly served in the Hawaiian State Legislature and Honolulu City Council, Gabbard, who has been in the House of Representatives since 2013, is considered a rising progressive figure within the Democratic Party, especially as a congressional member of the Medicare for All Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She resigned as DNC vice-chair in 2016 to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president during the Democratic primaries. She also endorsed former Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison during the 2017 DNC chairpersonship race.
As a progressive Democrat in the Congress, Gabbard, daughter of Hawaiian state senator Mike Gabbard, supports universal healthcare, a $15 minimum wage, voting rights expansion, wall street reform, and criminal justice reform as well as the decriminalization of Cannabis. In regards to foreign policy, Gabbard is against U.S. military interventionism in Syria, withdrawal from Afghanistan, end arms deals with Saudi Arabia, reduce foreign aid to Pakistan, and supports the Iran Deal. However, Gabbard has been criticized with her meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as previously opposed both civil unions and same-sex marriage until 2012.
While Gabbard met with President Donald Trump during his presidential transition in late 2016 at Trump Tower in New York City to discuss de-escalation and demilitarization in the Middle East, she heavily criticized Trump’s executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim majority countries and tweeted that “being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not America First” after Trump refusal of sanctioning Saudi Arabia over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Gabbard is expected to be in a crowded field of Democrats during the presidential primaries between 2019 and 2020. Major declared candidates have included former Maryland congressman John Delaney and former West Virginia state senator Richard Ojeda. Potential major candidates who have scheduled announcements formed exploratory committees, speculated in running, and publically expressed interest in running include former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Guillium, and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.
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