Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) officially kicked off her campaign for president on Saturday.
In a speech in Oahu, Gabbard, 37, stressed lessons she learned while serving in her state’s National Guard.
“When we raise our right hand and volunteer to serve, we set aside our own interests to serve our country, to fight for all Americans. We serve as one, indivisible, united, unbreakable ― united by this bond of love for each other and love for our country,” she said. “It is in this spirit that today I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.”
The four-term congresswoman took aim at U.S. interventionism, slamming officials who engage in armed conflicts at great costs while treating troops “as political pawns and mercenaries for hire in wars around the world.”
“We must stand up... against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage [and] new places for people to die,” said Gabbard, who served in Iraq.
Other policy positions that the White House hopeful discussed included Medicare for all, criminal justice reform, environmental advocacy and the need t combat privacy infringement by big tech companies.
Gabbard first confirmed her plans to run last month in an interview with CNN commentator Van Jones. The sudden reveal reportedly came as a shock to her political team, sending it rushing to firm up her campaign’s infrastructure, including its website and publicity.
In her discussion with Jones, Gabbard pointed to “the issue of war and peace” as a primary motivation behind her decision to run.
HuffPost reported last week that the lawmaker took more than $100,000 in campaign donations from arms dealers including BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon from 2012 to 2016, based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the spring of 2017, Gabbard said she had stopped accepting defense industry money.
The already crowded field of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination includes Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), as well as Obama administration Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro. Others who may enter the race include former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).