Tulsi Gabbard served as the representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District from 2013-2021, the first American Samoan Congresswoman and the first practicing Hindu member of Congress. In February 2019, she announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States, the first female combat veteran to run for U.S. president. She suspended her presidential campaign on March 19, 2020.
Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981, in Leloaloa, American Samoa. She received a B.S.B.A. in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University in 2009. Her father, Mike Gabbard, has been a member of the Hawaii state Senate since 2006.
As a teenager, Gabbard co-founded Healthy Hawaii Coalition (HHC), a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission is to protect the environment and improve individual and community health.
In 2002, Gabbard became the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaii state legislature, representing District 42 in West Oahu through 2004. In 2003, Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard, completing her basic training between legislative sessions. In July 2004, she was deployed for a 12-month tour in Iraq. In 2007, she graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, where she was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy’s 50-year history. From 2007 to 2009, Gabbard served as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka. In 2009, she was deployed to Kuwait, training counterterrorism units. In 2010, she was elected to the Honolulu City Council, and in 2012, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She served as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2013-2016.
In 2002, after redistricting, Gabbard won the four-candidate Democratic primary with a plurality of 43% of the vote. Gabbard then won the general election with 60.7% of the vote, defeating Republican Alfonso Jimenez. At the age of 21, Gabbard became the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii’s history and was at the time the youngest woman ever elected to a U.S. state legislature.
During her term of office, Gabbard successfully led opposition to, and protests of, a state bill that would have legalized same-sex civil unions, and urged Hawaiians to support the Federal Marriage Amendment to prevent federal law from overriding state law with regard to same-sex marriage.
In 2004, Gabbard filed for reelection but then volunteered for Army National Guard service in Iraq. Rida Cabanilla, who filed to run against her, called on Gabbard to resign because she would not be able to represent her district from Iraq. Gabbard announced in August 2004 that she would not campaign for a second term, and Cabanilla won the Democratic primary with 58% of the vote. State law prevented the removal of Gabbard’s name from the ballot.
Gabbard criticizes what she describes as a push by the ‘neoliberal/neoconservative war machine’ for U.S. involvement in ‘counterproductive, wasteful foreign wars’, saying they have not made the United States any safer and have started a New Cold War and the nuclear arms race. She describes herself as a hawk “when it comes to the war against terrorists,” but “when it comes to counterproductive wars of regime change, I’m a dove.”
Gabbard’s domestic policy platform in her 2020 presidential campaign was economically and socially progressive. After the presidential campaign, she agreed with Republicans on some cultural and social issues.
Tulsi Gabbard announces that she is leaving the Democratic Party
Former Congresswoman and the first Hindu American to run for the White House in 2020, Tulsi Gabbard, on Tuesday announced that she is leaving the governing Democratic Party, denouncing it as an ‘elitist cabal of war-mongers.’
Ms. Gabbard, 41, who retired from the House of Representatives last year, made the announcement on Twitter. She has, however, kept everyone guessing about her next move.