Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-2) announced she’s running for president in 2020. Or rather, she announced that she is going to announce in a released clip from her forthcoming interview with CNN’s Van Jones.
— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) January 11, 2019
Gabbard confirmed the news to CNN’s Van Jones in an interview set to air on Saturday night.
“I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week,” Gabbard told Jones.
Gabbard has made a lot of fans among progressives, but also a number of critics because of some of her positions on issues such as foreign policy.
Gabbard is one of the first two female combat veterans to serve in Congress and is its first-ever Hindu member.
Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced on Friday that she’s running for president in 2020. Gabbard confirmed the news to CNN’s Van Jones in an interview set to air on Saturday night.
There is plenty to discuss surrounding Rep. Gabbard. The congresswoman spent the earlier part of the week feuding with her own party, including her own US Senator Mazie Hirono:
Gabbard’s opinion piece argues that for years “politicians have weaponized religion for their own selfish gain, fomenting bigotry, fears and suspicious based on the faith, religion or spiritual practices of their potential opponents.”
The congresswoman later zeroes in on the recent questioning of Buescher, without mentioning Hirono by name. Both Hirono and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had questioned Buescher last month about whether he could rule impartially on issues related to abortion and same-sex marriage, noting that Buescher was a member of the Knights of Columbus, which has taken public stances on both.
“I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus,” wrote Gabbard. “If Buescher is ‘unqualified’ because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the ‘liberal lion of the Senate’ Ted Kennedy would have been ‘unqualified’ for the same reasons.”
Gabbard goes on to take a swipe at U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who questioned Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.
”Elected leaders engaging in religion-baiting are playing with fire. They are sacrificing the well-being, peace and harmony of our country to satisfy their own political ambitions for partisan political interests,” wrote Gabbard. “We must stand together, call out and reject religious bigotry no matter where it comes from, and fight to protect the freedoms and principles that bind us together as Americans.”
Gabbard also drew friendly fire from parts of her own party with her support of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
The 37-year-old congresswoman was a vocal supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016. She gained national attention when she resigned as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee in order to throw her support behind the Vermont senator during the presidential campaign season.
Explaining her decision at the time, Gabbard said, “I think it’s most important for us, as we look at our choices as to who our next commander in chief will be, is to recognize the necessity to have a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment.”
Gabbard’s support for Sanders was not forgotten, and, in 2018, her reelection bid was endorsed by Our Revolution, the grassroots political organization launched by Sanders campaign members after the 2016 election. She also enjoyed support from groups like the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood.
Meeting with President Trump shortly after election day didn’t go over well either. But the decision Rep. Gabbard is mostly known for is her controversial and un-authorized visit to Syria in 2017, paid for by supporters of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, which saw the congresswoman spouting Assad’s talking points verbatim on return. That died down some after she dispatched her promised primary challenger, but expect it to resurface now. And then there is the matter of where she fits into the growing Democratic Party primary field:
As the race takes shape, Gabbard’s rivals – of whom there are likely to be many – will know they can make political hay of her controversial views and over episodes like her visit to Assad amid his devastating campaign against his own people.
What’s unclear is how those politically close to her will handle what will be an internecine battle. Gabbard has developed deep roots in the party’s left wing, joining the board of the Sanders Institute, founded by the senator’s wife, and frequently posturing as the Democrats’ leading antiwar voice when more mainstream members of the party succumb to militarism the party’s base dislikes, as when they endorsed Trump’s strike against Assad in 2017.
The quiet hope among backers of Sanders and Warren so far is that her campaign will ultimately fizzle out before things have to get ugly.
But that’s far from assured, given that many of Gabbard’s supporters – particularly in parts of the peace movement – are fervent and have been hoping for this kind of announcement by her for years.
Young, controversial, articulate, good on camera, controversial, contradictory, veteran, peace advocate, progressive, not progressive enough, controversial; Tulsi Gabbard has one thing going for her some other primary challengers for 2020 Democratic Party nomination are desperately seeking: She is interesting.