Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress, formally launched her campaign for president on Jan. 24.
Gabbard, 37, who kicked off her campaign with an official announcement in Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 2 made her 2020 plans known in a video she posted to Twitter.
“We are being torn apart, with divisions that seem too deep to heal,” Gabbard wrote. “But when we are united in the spirit of love, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.”
We are being torn apart, with divisions that seem too deep to heal. But when we are united in the spirit of love, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. Join me in building a movement for peace to create a bright future for all. https://t.co/NmMa4BpqOW pic.twitter.com/PGd9FHUxwS— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 24, 2019
Gabbard faced backlash from the Republican National Committee (RNC) within minutes of her informal announcement. The RNC put out a “cheat sheet” on Gabbard calling her “Assad’s mouthpiece in Washington,” referring to a controversial meeting she had in 2017 with the Syrian leader. Gabbard stood by the meeting telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that leaders in the U.S. must meet with foreign leaders “if we are serious about the pursuit of peace and securing our country.”
Gabbard told CNN’s Van Jones in an interview on Jan. 12 she will be running on criminal justice reform, healthcare for all Americans, and enacting policy to combat climate change. However, the Iraq War veteran, says her primary focus will be “war and peace.”
Here’s everything you need to know:
Name: Tulsi Gabbard
Date of Birth: April 12, 1981
Born: Leloaloa, American Samoa
Education: She earned a degree in international business from Hawaii Pacific University in 2009.
What she does now: U.S. Representative for 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 volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers 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.
What you might not know about her:
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.