Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been in office for nearly seven years, but she remains virtually unknown to the general public. That has been a major challenge as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination and runs against a crowded field of 24 candidates, many of whom have higher national profiles than her.
The first presidential primary debate on Wednesday was an opportunity for Gabbard to cut through the noise and introduce her platform to a nationwide audience. But out of the 10 candidates on the debate stage, Gabbard had the third-lowest speaking time at only 6.6 minutes, tied with former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, The Washington Post reported.
By comparison, the top three candidates with the most speaking time were Sen. Cory Booker at 10.9 minutes, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke at 10.3 minutes, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 9.3 minutes. This even led Gabbard's sister Vrindavan Gabbard to tweet on Tulsi's account, "It's clear who MSNBC wants to be president: Elizabeth Warren. They're giving her more time than all the other candidates combined. They aren't giving any time to Tulsi at all."
It's clear who MSNBC wants to be president: Elizabeth Warren. They're giving her more time than all the other candidates combined. They aren't giving any time to Tulsi at all. -V (Tulsi's sister)— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) June 27, 2019
Despite this setback, Gabbard was able to make a splash that can potentially help her presidential bid. According to Google Trends, she was the Democratic candidate most people were searching for, followed by Booker and Warren. (Maybe it was her sister who helped out.)
So, what do you need to know about Gabbard? She served in the armed forces and was deployed to Iraq twice with the National Guard. After serving in the Hawaii state Legislature, she was elected to federal office in 2012, making history as the first Hindu and the first American Samoan in Congress. Gabbard was considered a progressive rising star, mostly because of her stances on the economy and the fact that she is a veteran who opposes U.S. military intervention efforts abroad. During the 2016 presidential election, she made news when she resigned as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in order to officially endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
However, Gabbard's star has dimmed in the last few years, mostly over issues such as her past anti-LGBTQ+ remarks (she's apologized and has since advocated for LGBTQ+ equality), her conservative stances on Islam, and her willingness to meet with and advocate for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a dictator who has carried out chemical attacks against his own people.
Gabbard launched her presidential bid in early January, but has not been able to break past the 1% average in national polls. Her platform is focused on addressing climate change, criminal justice reform, access to healthcare, and military-nonintervention. Time will tell whether this post-debate Google boost will earn her more attention in the long run, but one thing's for sure: We'll be keeping an eye on her sister's tweets.