Who is Tulsi Gabbard? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate
Editor's note: This story is part of PolitiFact’s ongoing coverage of the 2020 campaign; these reports will be updated as the campaign continues. For more candidate profiles and fact-checking, go to www.politifact.com/2020/
After serving two tours of duty in the Middle East, Tulsi Gabbard says she knows the cost of war and pledges to bring "a soldier’s heart" to the White House. Keeping the United States out of "regime change wars" is a core promise of her Democratic campaign.
President Donald Trump "bows to the wishes of the neocons who surround him, clamoring for regime change wars that he claimed to oppose, this time in Venezuela and in Iran," Gabbard said in her speech announcing her run for the White House.
Gabbard has been in Congress since 2013, representing Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Before that, she served in state and local office in Hawaii and in the military.
Gabbard was elected to Hawaii’s Legislature in 2002, when she was 21. She later joined the Hawaii Army National Guard (she’s been promoted to major) and was deployed twice to the Middle East. After her deployments, Gabbard ran for office again and was elected to the Honolulu City Council.
As president, Gabbard says she would end federal subsidies for oil companies "that are destroying our air, land and water" and invest in renewable energy. She also supports the legalization of marijuana and the expungement of records of people with marijuana possession charges and convictions. Following domestic and international terrorist attacks in places of worship, Gabbard called for an end to religious bigotry. "We need leaders who’ll stand up against bigotry," she said.
Early in her presidential campaign, Gabbard apologized for past statements and advocacy against the LGBTQ community. She said her views have changed and is now committed to fighting for LGBTQ rights.
Gabbard has also been scrutinized for a 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the United States government blames for deadly attacks against Syrian civilians during the country’s civil war.
"When the opportunity arose to meet with him," Gabbard said in a 2017 CNN interview. "I did so because I felt that it's important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we've got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace."
Name: Tulsi Gabbard
Current occupation: U.S. Representative from Hawaii, 2nd congressional district, serves on two House committees: Armed Services, Financial Services
Party: Democratic Party
Federal offices: U.S. House of Representatives, 2013 to present
Key votes: Voted for Save the Internet Act to restore net neutrality regulations, voted in favor of a resolution opposing a ban on transgender individuals serving in the Armed Forces, voted for a joint resolution terminating Trump’s national emergency declaration related to the U.S.-Mexico border. Voted against the Republican 2017 bill changing tax laws, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
State and local offices: Hawaii State House of Representatives, 2003-2004; Honolulu City Council, 2011-2012
Private sector work: Co-founded the Healthy Hawaii Coalition, a nonprofit organization seeking to protect the environment and to improve community and individual health
Military: Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard, deployed twice to the Middle East
Books authored: Forthcoming: "Is Today The Day?: Not Another Political Memoir"
Education: International Business degree from Hawaii Pacific University
Birth date: April 12, 1981
Personal life: Married to Abraham Williams
Top issues: Foreign policy, environment protection, Medicare for All
Major donors: Campaign says it does not accept contributions from corporations, lobbyists or political action committees
Miscellaneous: Former vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, she resigned that position to support Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in his 2016 presidential race. She served as a legislative aide to Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Gabbard was born in American Samoa and moved to Hawaii when she was 2. She’s an avid surfer.
Campaign website: https://www.tulsi2020.com/