Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she is running for president in 2020

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard D-Hawaii greets supporters Tuesday Nov. 6 2018 in Honolulu

Gabbard will become the first Hindu to run for the White House when she announces formally next week.

The 37-year-old Congresswoman from Hawaiʻi and Iraq war veteran discussed the possibility during a podcast interview with Joe Rogan in September. She's opposed to military intervention, and drew criticism in 2017 for meeting during a secret trip with Syrian President Bashar Assad whose oppressive regime has allegedly used chemical weapons on its own people.

She said she met with him to show that USA can "truly care about the Syrian people" with the hope of achieving peace.

Leading up to the 2016 Democratic primaries, Gabbard served under Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as vice-chairwoman but resigned to fully support Bernie Sanders' campaign.

The Hawaii Democrat said there were "a lot of reasons" behind her decision to run and named some of the top issues that would be on her campaign platform, including health care, criminal justice reform and climate change.

But Republicans, too, felt the need to speak up against her. "Liberals think she's too conservative, conservatives think she's too liberal, and just about everyone thinks her coziness with Bashar al-Assad is disturbing", Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said, also mentioning the congresswoman's "lack of experience".

"Not sure if the country is ready for another African American", said an Indian American Republican donor and strategist, who said he would like Harris to devote more time burnishing her credentials as an Indian American.

Gabbard recalls that she found the meeting encouraging. She is said to have supported in 2014 a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage nationwide, but later reversed her opinion and applauded a Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage across the US.

Another issue that has done a disservice to Tulsi Gabbard among left-wing voters is her prior stance on gay marriages.

She was condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike, as the prevailing narrative in the United States is that the Syrian president is a war criminal because he purportedly used chemical weapons against civilians. In response, Gabbard wrote on Twitter that "being Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First'".

She has advocated cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan and pressuring it to end its support global terrorism. Gabbard remains popular with some liberals but will have serious competition with other candidates on the left flank of the party.

Gabbard was born in American Samoa and was raised in Hawaii, where she is known to surf.

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