Tulsi Gabbard says she's running for president

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard2020 Dems rebuke Trump on Iran, say they'd put US back in nuclear deal New 2020 candidate Moulton on hypothetical Mars invasion: 'I would not build a wall' Blockchain could spark renaissance economy 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 WarrenJulián Castro: Trump should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice 'in very concrete ways' Poll: Biden tops Sanders nationally Pete Buttigieg: 'God doesn't have a political party' MORE (D-Mass.) announcing a bid on New Year's Eve and others expected to jump in soon, such as Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJulián Castro: Trump should be impeached for trying to obstruct justice 'in very concrete ways' Poll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds Trump Jr. slams 2020 Dems as 'more concerned' about rights of murderers than legal gun owners MORE (D-Calif.).

Former Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkePoll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump team fights back over Dem subpoena 2020 Dems back repeal of controversial New Hampshire voting law MORE (D-Texas) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenAndrew Cuomo: Biden has best chance at 'main goal' of beating Trump Poll: Buttigieg tops Harris, O'Rourke as momentum builds Buttigieg responds to accusation of pushing a 'hate hoax' about Pence 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.