The 2020 presidential election is nearly two years away, but people are already lining up to take on President Trump. The latest person to toss their hat in the 2020 race is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii who has served in Congress since 2012. She made her announcement on Friday, Jan. 11, and eyes have been on her ever since, with many people wondering: Who is Tulsi Gabbard? Let's just say she's got a pretty decorated resume.
Gabbard, 37, is an Iraq War veteran and the first American Samoan and Hindu to hold a congressional seat, according to CNN. While in office, she reportedly co-founded the Congressional Future Caucus, an organization of young congressmen and women dedicated to working on issues that Millennials care about, per The Guardian, and she's landed foreign affairs and armed services assignments on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In other words, she's done some pretty impressive stuff. According to her House website, Gabbard was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2012 to represent Hawaii's 2nd District.
As far as her stances go, Gabbard, per her House website, backs Medicare for All (she's a cosponsor of H.R.676, Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act), criminal justice reform, and gun control, including the ban of bump stocks, which has earned her the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) and liberal-friendly groups like Planned Parenthood. In fact, those issues are seemingly what motivated Gabbard to run for the White House.
"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," she said, listing her platform issues, which include health care, criminal justice reform and climate change, per CNN. "There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace," Gabbard continued. "I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement." Gabbard reportedly said she will make her official announcement within the next week.
But, of course, she's experienced some controversies, too. In 2017, Gabbard faced criticism for her "secret" meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has allegedly used chemical attacks to kill its own people. But her spokesperson told The Hill that Gabbard had been given permission to travel to Syria by the House Ethics Committee. After her trip, Gabbard shared that she personally reimbursed the cost of the trip, even though the trip reportedly met every requirement of the House Ethics Committee, per a press release Gabbard put out on Jan. 31, 2017. The House Ethics Committee did not provide an official comment on the matter at the time. "She has stated time and again that peace can never be achieved if we only meet and speak with our friends. If we really want peace, we need to be fearless enough to sit down and speak directly with our adversaries," a spokesperson added to The Guardian.
She met similar criticism in 2016, when she chose to meet with President Donald Trump after he was elected. But, well, you'd think the same sentiment applies.
Gabbard is one of few who have announced bids for the presidency. Other candidates include Julian Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017, and was the mayor of San Antonio, Texas between 2009 and 2014. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) announced on Dec. 31, 2018 that she would be launching an exploratory committee to test the waters for a potential bid. And the other names that have been floated include Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Texas Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California).
You'll have to keep an eye out to see who else decides to step up in the race from here.