"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision,” Gabbard said. “There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve.”
Gabbard was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2012 to represent Hawaii’s Second District, becoming the first Hindu and the first American Samoan elected to Congress. Prior to her time in Washington, Gabbard served in the armed forces; she was deployed to Iraq twice with the National Guard and is an outspoken advocate for veterans’ rights. She was a noted supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid, resigning as vice chairwoman from the Democratic National Committee in order to officially endorse Sanders’ campaign.
Gabbard told CNN her major platform issues include criminal justice reform, access to healthcare, and addressing climate change, as well as matters of foreign policy. Gabbard strongly opposes American military intervention efforts abroad and has been a noted critic of the United States’ presence in Syria. In 2017, she made headlines for holding a controversial secret meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has allegedly carried out chemical attacks on his own people. In response, Gabbard said she believes that “we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.”
It may just be the start of 2019, but 2020 is already well underway — and Gabbard is not the only candidate seeking the Democratic nomination. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced on New Year’s Eve she is forming an exploratory committee to explore a presidential run. Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, TX and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, is set to launch a 2020 bid, and Maryland Representative John Delaney has been running for the past year and a half.
California Senator Kamala Harris, who recently published a personal memoir, has hinted at running — last week, she appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and, when asked about her presidential aspirations, replied, “I might.” New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who in 2017 turned down the possibility of running, is widely expected to announce her own run soon. Other high-profile Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, are also reportedly considering bids.