WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard says she will focus on her White House bid and not run for reelection to her congressional seat. The congresswoman from Hawaii made the announcement early Friday.
While lagging behind in a crowded Democratic presidential field, Gabbard has gotten renewed attention lately after a heated argument with former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The Hawaii congresswoman fought back after Clinton said in a recent interview that she believes Republicans have "got their eye on somebody who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate." Clinton, the former senator, U.S. secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, did not name Gabbard directly.
The squabble seemed to give Gabbard renewed energy on the campaign trail.
Gabbard noted in her early morning announcement that the threats of war, international tensions and the threats of a new cold war convinced her she should focus on the presidential race.
"I believe I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as your President and Commander-in-Chief," she said in her statement.
Gabbard, who launched her presidential bid in January, has emphasized her background as a combat veteran. Currently a major in the Army National Guard, she has served for more than 16 years and deployed twice to the Middle East, according to her announcement. She was first elected to Congress in 2012.
Gabbard, 38, was facing a serious primary challenge for her safely Democratic House seat from Kai Kahele, a state senator and combat veteran. Kahele has accused her of neglecting her district as she campaigned for president, has raised $500,000 so far this year and has been endorsed by three of the state's former governors.
Gabbard recently reported collecting no money for her House reelection campaign over the past three months, even as she banked millions of dollars for her presidential effort.
Gabbard is the seventh House Democrat to announce this year that they're not running for reelection, all but one of whom hold safe Democratic seats.
That's a fraction of the 18 House Republicans who've said they will retire, plus another three who've already resigned and left Congress.