Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran who met dictator Bashar al-Assad in Syria during that country's devastating civil war, said Friday that she is launching a USA presidential bid.
Gabbard's declaration follows a December 12 appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball" in which she said she was "seriously considering" a presidential run.
Gabbard drew heavy criticism when she met secretly with Assad in Damascus in 2017 during a fact-finding mission that also took her to the decimated city of Aleppo. "When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt it's important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we've got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that's exactly what we talked about".
In the race to pick a candidate to run against Trump, Democrats will grapple with the tension between the party's establishment and liberal wings that flared during the 2016 state-by-state nominating contests between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who ran under the Democratic banner. Bernie Sanders are all weighing their own presidential bids and are expected to announce decisions in the upcoming weeks.
Big Island Video News will have a deeper analysis, with video, of Rep. Gabbard's political positioning in recent years, which has served to establish her as a maverick among Democrats. Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris, who aggressively questioned the nominee, Brian Buescher, about his religious beliefs.
"Assad apologist" seems to be the Tulsi equivalent of "Putin puppet", judging from the early tweets, though she was accused of being one of those too.
In her first tweet after the announcement, Gabbard urged her fellow countrymen to join her campaign. In January, she met with Assad without informing leaders in her party, and she dismissed his opposition ― including rebels backed by the United States ― as "terrorists".
Gabbard's aide Rania Batrice will manage her presidential campaign. She also was one of the first female combat veterans elected to Congress ― deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009 as a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is running for President in 2020.
Gabbard is so far left that she lost the support of a Hawaii teacher's union over her handling of Syria.