Hawaii lawmaker and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard will have to take two weeks off from her White House campaign activities in order to fulfill her obligation with Hawaii’s Army National Guard.
She will report for active duty and participate in a joint-training exercise to take place in Indonesia, according to CBS News. Gabbard currently holds the rank of Major.
“We’ll be doing a training exercise with the Indonesian military, focused on a few different things like counterterrorism, humanitarian aid and disaster response and joining my brothers and sisters from the Hawaii National Guard in doing so,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard, who has served three terms as a U.S. lawmaker, has also served two tours of duty in the Middle East. Her first deployment was to Iraq in 2004 to 2005 and her second was to Kuwait in 2008 to 2009, according to Politico.
The 2020 hopeful has also served as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Gabbard was asked what she thought about some people who said the timing of her two-week active duty stint wasn’t ideal considering she’s in a battle to gain ground within her party, but Gabbard explained that there are more important things than running for president.
“I love our country. I love being able to serve our country in so many ways, including as a soldier,” Gabbard said. “And so while some people are telling me, like, ‘Gosh, this is a terrible time to leave the campaign. Can’t you find a way out of it?’ You know, that’s not what this is about.”
The Hawaii representative hasn’t been shy about highlighting her military service as a centerpiece of her presidential campaign, which was evidenced during both the first and second Democratic primary debates.
According to CBS News, Gabbard is one of three Democratic presidential candidates with military service on their record. The other two are South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak.
One of her opponents, California Sen. Kamala Harris, criticized her in the past for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad on a trip to Syria in 2017. Harris blasted Gabbard as an Assad “apologist.”
But Gabbard didn’t apologize for her meeting and explained that she did it in the name of diplomacy.
“We need leaders who will have the courage to meet with brutal dictators, to meet with adversaries in the pursuit of our national security, in the pursuit of keeping the American people safe, and in the pursuit of peace,” Gabbard said.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 12, 2019
According to Real Clear Politics‘ average polling data, Gabbard currently sits in 8th place at 1.3 percent support, behind Sen. Cory Booker.
Impressively, Gabbard was the most-searched candidate on Google after both Democratic debates, according to USA Today. However, Gabbard’s campaign would later announce a lawsuit against Google after the search company had temporarily suspended the candidate’s advertising account during the first Democratic debate.
According to The Hill, Gabbard hasn’t qualified for the third Democratic debate, though she and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro are halfway there, having met a donor threshold but failing to crack the two percent polling mark to qualify.