U.S. Rep Tulsi Gabbard told CNN today that she is running for president in 2020 and will make a formal announcement next week.
The Hawaii Democrat disclosed her plans on CNN’s “The Van Jones Show,” which will air at 2 p.m. Saturday in Hawaii, the network said.
Gabbard has made recent trips to New Hampshire and Iowa, and had acknowledged she was considering a run for president.
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In a statement issued this evening from her campaign at tulsi2020.com, she said, “There are many reasons I’m offering to serve you as President — to ensure every American gets the healthcare they need, to bring about comprehensive immigration reform, to make sure we have clean water and clean air for generations to come, to fix our broken criminal justice system, to end the corrupt influence of special interests in Washington, and so much more.
“But the main reason I’m running has to do with an issue that is central to the rest — war and peace.”
Gabbard, 37, has made several other recent moves that pointed to a possible presidential run. She paid $10,000 to Joe Trippi &Associates, a political strategy firm that has worked on high-profile campaigns, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission. She also paid Batrice & Associates $9,000 in August. Rania Batrice, who has worked with Gabbard in the past, is a well-known political consultant who assisted with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.
She also plans to release an autobiography in the spring, which is common for presidential hopefuls.
Gabbard, who in November was re-elected to her fourth term representing Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District does not have to resign her House seat to run for higher office. A state elections official told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last month that Gabbard could run for re-election in the House while also running for president in 2020.
Political analysts told the Star-Advertiser that Gabbard’s bid would be a long shot and she may be in part hurt by being from a small state, but that a run could also boost her national profile, bolster her attractiveness as a vice presidential candidate or help her secure a Cabinet-level position.
Gabbard, who was born in America Samoa, was the first Hindu elected to Congress when she won her first race in 2012. Before that, Gabbard served on the Honolulu City Council and in the state House.
She is a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard who served two tours of duty in the Middle East.
For a Hawaii politician, Gabbard has a high national profile as a frequent guest on cable news shows and with a reputation for not being afraid of controversy.
In 2016, she broke ranks with the party establishment by resigning her position as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and endorsing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for president over front-runner, and eventual nominee, Hillary Clinton. She chastised the committee for not holding enough Clinton-Sanders debates during the primaryies. That criticism was used against Gabbard in last year’s election when she refused to debate any challenger as she ran for re-election.
Gabbard also has been a vocal critic of U.S. military involvement in the Middle East, including the policies of former President Barack Obama.
In January 2017, Gabbard secretly visited Syria and met with President Bashar Assad despite accusations that he was committing genocide against his own people.
Last November, Gabbard called President Donald Trump “Saudi Arabia’s bitch” for not taking a harder stance against the oil-rich nation. But Gabbard earlier had raised Democrat eyebrows after Trump’s 2016 election when she me with the president-elect as he put together his Cabinet.
Most recently, Gabbard made national news earlier this week when she criticized fellow Hawaii Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono for what Gabbard considered religious bigotry in Hirono’s questioning of a Trump administration judicial nominee.
Gabbard becomes the first high-profile Democrat to announce a run for president in a field that is expected to become crowded with challengers who view the president as vulnerable. Other Democrats who have been mentioned as possible challengers include Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Vice President Joe Biden.
CNN reported that Gabbard’s campaign manager will be Rania Batrice, who served as a deputy campaign manager for Bernie Sanders in 2016.
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