With the 2020 presidential race less than 22 months away, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has decided to make her candidacy official.
Gabbard announced her intention to run this past Friday on CNN’s ‘The Van Jones Show,’ on an episode that was slated to air Saturday night.
“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 health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change as key platform issues.
“There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace,” Gabbard added. “I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement.”
Currently, Gabbard serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and is the first American Samoan and first Hindu member of Congress, adding diversity to a lawmaking body that recently saw the election of its first two female Muslim congresswomen as well, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran, and former vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. She eventually resigned her post to become one of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ highest-profile supporters.
According to CNN, her campaign manager will be Rania Batrice, who served as deputy campaign manager for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and is now a top aide for Gabbard. Batrice is a Palestinian American whose company Batrice & Associates has supported election candidates, companies and non-profits around the world for nearly two decades.
Other potential Democratic candidates include Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who announced on New Year’s Eve that she was forming an exploratory committee. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro also officially announced his candidacy on Saturday.
Gabbard‘s past work for controversial anti-gay organization surfaces
According to media reports, Gabbard touted working for her father’s organization The Alliance for Traditional Marriage in the early 2000s, which worked to pass a law against same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
Gabbard also reportedly supported controversial conversion therapy, an article from CNN said.
The Hawaiian politician was 17 at the time of the vote and 21 when she worked for her father’s organization during her run to the state legislature in Hawaii.
Her father’s organization called homosexuality “unhealthy, abnormal behavior that should not be promoted or accepted in society.”
She released the following statement in response to the CNN story while adding that she has recently worked on numerous measures for equal rights for the gay and lesbian communities.
“First, let me say I regret the positions I took in the past, and the things I said. I’m grateful for those in the LGBTQ+ community who have shared their aloha with me throughout my personal journey,” she said.