Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) announced Monday that she is temporarily leaving the campaign trail in order to report for active duty military service.
Gabbard has orders to report to Indonesia, where her unit will help train the Indonesian Army.
“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,” she told CBS.
Gabbard is a major in the Army National Guard. She has served two tours of duty in the Middle East, one in Iraq from 2004 to 2006 and other in Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. She also uses her military and foreign policy experience in Congress, serving on the House Armed Services Committee.
In a campaign statement, Gabbard said: “I love our country. I am grateful to be able to serve our country and the American people in many ways, including as a soldier. And so, while some people are telling me, ‘Gosh, this is a terrible time to leave the campaign. Can’t you find a way out of it?’ That’s not what this is about.”
And while Gabbard told Fox News that she’s not “not thinking about the politics of it,” temporarily leaving the campaign trail could hurt her candidacy.
Because so many Democrats are vying for their party’s presidential nomination, the Democratic National Committee established certain parameters for participating in the debates. Gabbard has met one qualification — garnering at least 130,000 unique donors — but has not yet cleared the second criterion: registering at least 2 percent support in four voter surveys.
Fortunately for Gabbard, she will have several weeks to clear the debate qualifying hurdle once she returns to the campaign trail on Aug. 25.