Rep., D-Hawaii, kicked off her presidential campaign with a rally in Honolulu. Perhaps most famous for her controversial foreign policy views, Gabbard said she “will end the regime change wars that have taken far too many lives and undermined our security by strengthening terrorist groups like al Qaeda.”
“These powerful politicians dishonor the sacrifices made by every one of my brothers and sisters in uniform, their families – they are the ones who pay the price for these wars,” Gabbard said. “In fact, every American pays the price for these wars, trillions of dollars since 9/11.”
In the speech, Gabbard pushed strong on her military service, saying she would bring her “soldier’s values” to the White House and being introduced by a soldier who served with her in Iraq.
Gabbard also hit hard on being from Hawaii, with traditional Hawaiian music being played before she came out and saying she would “bring the spirit of aloha” to the White House. “This is the change we need to see in the White House because the White House should be a beacon of aloha,” Gabbard said.
The rally for Gabbard, one of Bernie Sanders’ key surrogates in Congress in 2016, is being held one day after Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey announced his campaign.
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 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.
Grace Segers contributed to this report.