Earlier this year (2019) 37 year old, Hawai'i US representative Tulsi Gabbard launched her bid to succeed Donald Trump as President of the United States.
In 2002, at just 21 years old, Tulsi Gabbard became the youngest person ever elected to the Hawai’i State Legislature and the youngest woman elected to a U.S. state legislature. She is also proud to point out that she is the first Samoan-American member of Congress.
She has received a lot of media attention since she was elected to Congress in 2012 but who is Tulsi Gabbard?
We take a look at her bio & some of the controversies surrounding her over the years
"I will bring a soldier's values to the White House, restoring integrity, honor, and respect to the presidency." she states #TULSI2020
* Tulsi was born in American Samoa, the daughter of current Hawai‘i state Sen. Mike Gabbard and Carol Porter Gabbard, who formerly served on the state Board of Education. Her family moved to Hawai‘i when she was 2 and was primarily homeschooled by her parents except for two years in the Philippines.
* At age 21, she was elected to the Hawaii State House to represent West Oahu, making her the youngest woman ever elected to the state legislature.
* The following year, she enlisted in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard. She volunteered to serve in a war zone in Iraq. She continues to serve as a major in the Army National Guard. “I was not on the mandatory deployment roster. I stepped away from my campaign, and volunteered to deploy to Iraq because I knew there was no way I could stay back in beautiful Hawai’i and watch my brothers and sisters march off into combat. I had to stand with them.” says Gabbard.
* From 2006 - 2009 she was the Legislative aide to Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii. During that time she also graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy (which makes her the 1st woman to earn the title of Distinguished Honour Graduate) and then deployed a 2nd time to Kuwait, training counter terrorism units.
* In 2012, Tulsi ran for the U.S House of Representatives for Hawai’i’s 2nd Congressional District. In an upset victory within the Democratic Primary, she defeated the former mayor of Honolulu, winning the general election by nearly 80 points.
Gabbard’s official oath of office was taken on January 3rd 2013, making her one of only two female combat veterans and the first Samoan woman in the House of Representatives.
* She identifies Hindu as her religion but has often deflected questions about the influence of Chris Butler who is the leader of an offshoot organization of the Hare Krishna movement.
* She married her husband Abraham Williams in a ceremony performed by a Hindu priest in Hawai'i in April 2015. It is her 2nd marriage, she married her first husband when she was only 21 and has said that the stresses of life in the military contributed to the breakdown of her marriage.
* Tulsi had shared her father’s strongly anti-homosexual views but in 2012 she said that her Middle East tours had changed her opinion, and began to support same-sex marriage. Since announcing her presidential campaign in January, she has appeared in an apology video.
* In 2016, she rankled some Democrats when she broke away from other Hawai‘i Democratic leaders supporting Hillary Clinton to back Sen. Bernie Sanders.
* In January 2017, she drew controversy for traveling to Syria and meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. She later repaid a pro-Assad group for her travel expenses after questions were raised.
"When the opportunity arose to meet with him (Assad), I did so because I felt that 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 can achieve peace," Gabbard says.
* In November 2018 Tulsi who is known for a temperate public voice, sent a tweet to President Donald Trump critical of his continued support of Saudi Arabia. “Being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not ‘America First.’”
* In January 2019 she told CNN's Van Jones that she will run for president in 2020 and later in the month issued an apology for her past comments and actions against the LGBTQ community.
She also stated she does not regret meeting with Assad saying that American leaders must meet with foreign leaders 'if we are serious about the pursuit of peace'
* In February 2019 she officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign at an event in Hawai'i.
Her key issues are speaking out against hasty military intervention. She has also said that combating climate change will be a big part of her platform.