indica News Bureau-
Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), one of 18 Democratic presidential candidates still in the race for the party nomination, has announced that she will focus on her campaign and not seek re-election to the US House of Representatives.
Gabbard announced her decision in an email and video to supporters. “I’m so grateful to the people of Hawaiʻi for allowing me to serve you in Congress for the last seven years,” she said. “Throughout my life, I have been motivated by a desire to serve the people of Hawaiʻi and our country, and have made my decisions based upon where I felt I could do the most good.”
Gabbard, who has positioned herself as a candidate who would extricate and keep the US out of all foreign wars, said the world is becoming more dangerous and the US is close to being “sucked into another even more disastrous war” in the Middle East, with Iran.
“Tensions are increasing with other nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China, leading us to a new Cold War and nuclear arms race, pushing us closer to the threat of nuclear annihilation,” she said. “In light of these challenges, I believe I can best serve the people of Hawaiʻi and our country as President and commander-in-chief.”
Gabbard, a major in the Hawai’i Army National Guard, has been deployed on two occasions to conflict zones in the Middle East. Her campaign styles her as the first female combat veteran to run for President. Along with Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), she is one of only two women soldiers deployed abroad to be elected to Congress.
Political analysts say her announcement will fuel speculation, voiced most prominently just last week by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, that Gabbard is preparing to run as a third-party candidate.
Gabbard barely made the October Democratic debate and is yet to qualify for the one in November. Polls, nationally as well as in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, consistently put her in the bottom half of the long Democratic candidate list.
Back in Hawai’i, Gabbard is facing a challenger for her seat in Congress in the form of state Senator Kai Kahele, who has attacked her for missing votes and for ignoring her constituents in the pursuit of her political ambition.
Gabbard was first elected to Congress in 2012 and has served there for close to seven years, including on the Homeland Security, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services committees.
She was vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2013 until she resigned in 2016 to endorse Sen Bernie Sanders’s 2016 bid for the presidential nomination.
Gabbard says her campaign for the presidency is powered by the people and she does not accept campaign contributions from corporations, lobbyists, or any political action committees. However, a detailed cover story in Caravan magazine in India had revealed how affiliates of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were funding her campaign. Gabbard, who is Hindu, has since tried to distance herself from the RSS.
Gabbard was born April 12, 1981, in American Samoa of Asian, Caucasian and Polynesian descent. When she was two, her family moved to Hawaiiʻi, where she grew up.