“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) told CNN in an interview that will air Saturday night. The 37-year-old Gabbard was elected to congress in 2012. She is an Iraq War veteran as well as the first American Samoan and the first Hindu to hold a congressional seat.
“There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace,” Gabbard, who currently serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said to CNN. “I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement.”
Since being elected, Gabbard has ruffled some feathers within the Democratic Party. She endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2016 and resigned from her position as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee after criticizing former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for limiting primary debates and allegedly giving preferential treatment to Hillary Clinton.
Gabbard has been opposed to foreign military intervention and even appeared on Fox News to critique the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy and praise Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated,” she tweeted at the time. “Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did. #neverforget911”
Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and must be defeated. Obama won’t bomb them in Syria. Putin did. #neverforget911
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 1, 2015
In 2017, she also took some heat for for meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and one Washington Post columnist called her “Assad’s mouthpiece in Washington.”
In the wake of her announcement, some on Twitter pointed out Gabbard’s conservative positions on social issues from when she first entered politics in her early 20s. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski shared a 2004 quote from Gabbard where she called LGBTQ activists pushing for gay marriage “homosexual extremists.” Gabbard also used to be pro-life, but her congressional voting record has earned her a 100 percent rating from pro-choice organization Planned Parenthood.
I realized Tulsi Gabbard was anti-gay, but didn't quite realize how anti-gay she was in the 2000s. This is next level: pic.twitter.com/kTjQUGWee3
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) January 12, 2019
Gabbard joins a growing field of Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential race, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Obama administration cabinet member and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro, who announced his candidacy Saturday morning.