Tulsi Gabbard Says She's Running for President in 2020

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced Friday she will run for president in 2020, becoming the latest Democrat to enter what is shaping up to be a crowded primary field.

Gabbard, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, has represented Hawaii in the House of Representatives since 2013. She sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she has staked out a position as one of the most vocal non-interventionists in Congress.

"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision," Gabbard told CNN's Van Jones during an interview set to air at 7 p.m. ET Saturday. "There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve."

"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, 37, is widely known for her unorthodox positions within the Democratic caucus. She was one of the few lawmakers to back Sen. Bernie Sanders' insurgent candidate against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary.

Gabbard also faced intense criticism, including from members of her own party, for meeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a trip to Syria in 2017. Some foreign policy commentators accused Gabbard of legitimizing Assad, who has been accused of war crimes against civilians, but she defended the meeting as an opportunity to discuss bringing an end to Syria's seven-year civil war.

"When the opportunity arose to meet with him, I did so because I felt 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, and that's exactly what we talked about," Gabbard told CNN's Jake Tapper in January 2017.

More recently, Gabbard stirred controversy among fellow Democrats when she issued a statement accusing some of them of "religious bigotry" for questioning whether a judicial nominee's membership in a Catholic fraternal organization would affect his ability to apply the law. Though she didn't call out any lawmakers by name, Gabbard's statement was likely referring to Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris, who aggressively questioned the nominee, Brian Buescher, about his religious beliefs.

Gabbard joins a growing contingent of Democrats looking to unseat President Donald Trump. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced on New Year's Eve that she was forming an exploratory committee for a potential run, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro did the same earlier this week.

Other prominent Democrats seen as potential candidates include Harris, Sanders, Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Vice President Joe Biden.