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Tulsi Gabbard, who has held several offices and ran for president as a Democrat, said she is leaving the party

Gabbard won't seek reelection to Congress
Tulsi Gabbard won't seek reelection to Congress 00:19

Tulsi Gabbard, a former congresswoman from Hawaii and 2020 presidential candidate, says she's no longer a member of the Democratic Party.

In a video statement posted to Twitter, Gabbard explained her decision to leave, despite holding several offices as a Democrat since 2002, including vice chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2013 to 2016. 

She said the party is "now under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers" and said it is driven by "wokeness," the term often used to describe political correctness.

In her video, she accused the party of dividing Americans, among other things. "I believe in a government that is of, by, and for the people," she said. "Unfortunately, today's Democratic Party does not."

Gabbard said she believes the party "stands for a government of, by, and for the powerful elite," and said she "can no longer stomach the direction that so-called woke Democratic Party ideologues are taking our country, I invite you to join me."

On Wednesday, soon after the announcement of her departure from the party, Gabbard headed to New Hampshire to hit the campaign trail with Republican Senate nominee Don Bolduc, who is trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. 

In a longer version of the video posted on YouTube, Gabbard said when she first declared herself a Democrat, she was inspired by those who stood up against the Vietnam War, people who fought for plantation workers in Hawaii and leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. However, she is now a critic of President Biden and the party. 

The video was posted as the first episode on the "Tulsi Gabbard Show" YouTube page, which will also be a podcast by the same name, hosted by Gabbard. 

Gabbard rose through the ranks as a Democratic member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, a member of the Honolulu city council and then a Democratic member of U.S. House of Representatives. She was the first Hindu elected to Congress.

In 2019, she announced her 2020 presidential campaign. She went up against nine other Democrats who dropped out during the primaries and was the second to last to drop out, just before Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont. Biden, the 10th candidate, remained as the party's nominee and was later elected president. 

Because she is a National Guard veteran, who did two tours in the Middle East, she took a two-week absence from her campaign to report for active duty with the Hawaiian Army National Guard in Indonesia.

During the 2016 presidential election, she campaigned for candidate Bernie Sanders, but she has been tough on both Democrats and Republicans in the past.

After Trump was elected, she met with the then-president-elect to discuss her opposition to creating a no-fly zone over Syria, saying it would "lead to more death and suffering." She admitted the meeting was unusual but said partisanship will never "undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance."

In 2018, Gabbard changed her tune, writing in a tweet that 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.

In 2019, she accused then-Sen. Kamala Harris, who was also running for president, of staging a "political ploy" to smear former Vice President Joe Biden's reputation and his record on civil rights. She said on CBS News' "Red & Blue" that Harris had been "leveling this accusation that Joe Biden is a racist — when he's clearly not — as a way to try to smear him." She also tweeted a similar sentiment. Harris never accused Biden of racial animus, and specifically said "I do not believe you are a racist" before confronting him on stage at the debate.

In 2020 she sued Hillary Clinton, alleging in the lawsuit that Clinton lied about Gabbard when she made derogatory comments in October 2019 in an effort to hurt Gabbard's bid for the White House. She eventually dropped the lawsuit.

During her presidential campaign, she tried to appeal to independents and Trump voters with a populist, anti-war message, but struggled to gain support from mainstream Democrats during the primaries. "[S]he's pulling from Trump voters. It could make it even tougher for Trump to win, particularly in states like Michigan and New Hampshire," Steve Bannon told CBS News in January 2020.

She did not seek reelection in Congress during her presidential run and left the chamber in 2021. She did, however, stay politically active and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual conference attended by Republican voters and politicians. 

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