Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first American Samoan elected from a state and first Hindu member of Congress, formally launched her campaign for president on Jan. 24. The Iraq War veteran said the primary focus of her campaign would be “war and peace.”
Name: Tulsi Gabbard
Date of birth: April 12, 1981
Hometown: Leloaloa, American Samoa
Family: She is married to Abraham Williams.
Education: She earned a degree in international business from Hawaii Pacific University in 2009.
What she does now: She has served as representative to Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013 and she's a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.
What she used to do: She was a member of the Honolulu City Council from 2010-2012 and served on the staff of U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka. She also served as a member of the Hawaii state House of Representatives from 2002-2004.
Key life/career moments:
Gabbard was just 21 when she was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002. She was the youngest person ever elected in the state.
She was also the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone when she deployed in 2004 while in the Hawaii Army National Guard, according to her official website.
In 2007, Gabbard graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy. She was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the academy's history, according to her website. In the same year, Gabbard was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Where she stands on some of the issues:
Gabbard supported the calls by protestors for Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to resign on the heels of a series of scandals. She was the first politician to travel to Puerto Rico to stand in solidarity with the protesters.
The Iraq war veteran and House Armed Service Committee member is strongly opposed to the U.S. going to war with Iran and said a war in Iran "would actually undermine our national security, cost us countless American lives, cost civilian lives across the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis in Europe and it would actually make us less safe by strengthening terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda."
Gabbard defended her non-interventionist foreign policy stance in an interview on ABC's "The View" in February, deflecting criticism painting her as an apologist of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by citing her own military service and the outcomes of those living in affected countries. Prior to her presidential campaign, the congresswoman was perhaps best known for a controversial 2017 trip to Syria to meet with al-Assad. She has since declined to label the leader an "enemy of the United States."
"An enemy of the United States is someone who threatens our safety and our security," Gabbard said on "The View." "There is no disputing the fact that Bashar al-Assad and Syria is a brutal dictator. There's no disputing the fact that he has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people."
"My point is that the reality we are facing here is that, since the United States started waging a covert regime change war in Syria starting in 2011, the lives of the Syrian people have not been improved," she added, referencing U.S. funding of rebel groups to overthrow Assad under the Obama administration.
Gabbard brought in a fundraising haul of $1.6 million in the second quarter. She spent more than she raised in the second quarter and has $2.4 million left of cash on hand.
What you might not know about her:
The congresswoman surprised observers with a seemingly spur-of-the-moment campaign declaration during a CNN interview in January. She eventually followed that announcement with a formal launch event in Honolulu.
Gabbard is the first Hindu member of Congress.
When she was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, she was one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress.
Gabbard served two tours of duty in the Middle East.
She served as a specialist in a field medical unit with a 29th Support Battalion medical company during her 12-month deployment in Iraq in 2005.
Gabbard was one of “the first women to set foot inside a Kuwait military facility” and “the first woman to ever be awarded and honored by the Kuwait National Guard for her work in their training and readiness program,” according to her official website.
Also according to her website, Gabbard co-founded an environmental non-profit called Healthy Hawai’i Coalition, which focused on educating children about protecting Hawaii’s environment, when she was a teenager.