Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she is running for president

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

What do Democrats want in a 2020 nominee?

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, said she is running for president in an interview slated to air on CNN's "The Van Jones Show" Saturday evening. A source close to Gabbard confirmed to CBS News that she is running.

"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision. There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," she told Jones, listing issues such as health care, criminal justice reform and climate change.

"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace," Gabbard added. "I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement."

Gabbard, one of Bernie Sanders' key surrogates in Congress in 2016, been widely criticized for her views on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, with some considering her an apologist for him. She met with Assad in 2017.

She made waves recently for saying in a tweet that President Trump is "Saudi Arabia's bitch" for announcing the U.S. will stand with Saudi Arabia, regardless of any intelligence community assessment on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia's bitch is not "America First,"" Gabbard tweeted.

She has also courted controversy by picking a fight with Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono. Gabbard, in an op-ed in The Hill, accused Hirono of "fomenting religious bigotry" by questioning one of Mr. Trump's judicial nominees about his membership in the Knights of Columbus.

Gabbard, a native of American Samoa, was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002 at the age of 21, the youngest woman to be elected to a state legislature in U.S. history at the time. She left office in 2004 and volunteered to be deployed to Iraq. She would return in 2006, work for Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka, then return to Iraq in 2009.

In 2010, she returned to office as a member of the Hawaii City Council. In 2012, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She comes from a multicultural, multi-religious family and, as a practicing Hindu, was the first Hindu elected to Congress.

Gabbard joins an increasingly crowded field of Democrats vying to be president.

Jack Turman contributed to this report

First published on January 11, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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