Tulsi Gabbard says she's running for president

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTrump's 'soldier of fortune' foreign policy Beto needs to revive talk about his 'war tax' proposal Gabbard: 'Debate or no debate we are driving forward' MORE (D-Hawaii) said Friday she has decided to run for president in 2020.

"I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," she told CNN's Van Jones in an interview set to air Saturday.

"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision," Gabbard said.
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"There are a lot of challenges that are facing the American people that I'm concerned about and that I want to help solve," she said.

She listed access to health care, criminal justice reform and climate change as key issues.

The 37-year-old lawmaker is Congress’s first Hindu member and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace," she added in the CNN interview. "I look forward to being able to get into this and to talk about it in depth when we make our announcement."

Gabbard joins what is expected to be a crowded Democratic presidential field in 2020, with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE (D-Mass.) announcing a bid on New Year's Eve and others expected to jump in soon, such as Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Calif.).

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll CNN announces details for LGBTQ town hall Manchin: 'Beto O'Rourke is not taking my guns away from me' MORE (D-Texas) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument Budowsky: Donald, Boris, Bibi — The right in retreat MORE are also among those being floated as potential candidates. 

Republicans immediately seized on Gabbard’s announcement Friday, using it to focus on her support within her party.

“Tulsi Gabbard has an even bigger problem than her lack of experience – it’s that she has no base of support,” Republican National Committee (RNC) spokesman Michael Ahrens argued in a statement. "Liberals think she’s too conservative, conservatives think she’s too liberal, and just about everyone thinks her coziness with Bashar al-Assad is disturbing.” 

Gabbard faced criticism from many, including members of her own party, for meeting with the Syrian leader in January 2017, months before the Syrian government would be accused of a chemical weapons attack against its own people.

The RNC released a "cheat sheet" about Gabbard on Friday after her announcement, highlighting issues that could affect her 2020 chances and noted her meeting with Assad at the top of the list.

Updated: 7:43 p.m.