Tulsi Gabbard, running for president, won't seek re-election to Congress

"I believe that I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as your president and commander-in-chief," Gabbard said in a video.
Tulsi Gabbard
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP

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By Phil Helsel and Amanda Golden

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said Thursday that she will not run for re-election for her U.S. representative seat, saying she wants to focus on trying to secure her party’s nomination to challenge President Donald Trump.

Gabbard, who represents Hawaii, made the announcement in a video and email to supporters.

"I believe that I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as your president and commander-in-chief," Gabbard said in the video.

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She also expressed gratitude to the people of Hawaii for her nearly seven years in Congress.

In January, Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele, a Democrat, said he would run for Gabbard's seat, NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu reported.

An Iowa Democratic caucus poll out this week put Gabbard at 3 percent, with former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the top three spots.

She is in a crowded field of Democrats seeking the nomination to run for president. Another candidate, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ended his long-shot presidential campaign Thursday.

Hillary Clinton recently suggested that she believed Republicans were grooming one of the Democrats for a third-party candidacy. Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name but said she believes one candidate is "the favorite of the Russians."

Asked if the former Secretary of State was referring to Gabbard, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said, "If the nesting doll fits..." He later tweeted that Clinton was referring to the GOP grooming Gabbard, not Russians.

Gabbard reacted by tweeting that Clinton is “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that sickened the Democratic Party for so long."

Trump attacked Clinton for the suggestion earlier this week, and said Clinton and other Democrats claim everyone opposed to them is a Russian agent.