Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) announced Monday that she will be taking two weeks off from campaigning to report for active military duty in the National Guard.
Gabbard told CBS that she will be leaving for a joint training exercise mission in Indonesia and said she is not worried how the mission will affect her campaign.
“I’m stepping off of the campaign trail for a couple of weeks and putting on my army uniform to go on a joint training exercise mission in Indonesia,” Gabbard said. “I’m not really thinking about how this will impact my campaign, I’m looking forward to fulfill my service, my responsibility,”
The exercise will concentrate on humanitarian aid, disaster response, and counterterrorism efforts in the region, Gabbard reported.
Gabbard is one of few Democrats competing for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination who has military experience. Other candidates in the race with a military record include South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak.
Gabbard previously served overseas in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and again in Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. The Hawaii congresswoman also took two weeks off to report for duty in 2017.
Gabbard, who is considered a long-shot presidential candidate, has still yet to qualify for next set of Democratic debates, slated to be held in Houston in September. The threshold to qualify has been raised from the last two events, with candidates now required to hit at least 2 percent support in four polls approved by the Democratic National Committee, in addition to showing at least 130,000 unique donors that include 400 donors across 20 different states.
While Gabbard has met the donor threshold to qualify for the Houston debate, she has not yet garnered enough support in the polls to earn a spot on stage. Failing to meet the requirements for the next debate would mean a huge blow to a struggling campaign by denying Gabbard the opportunity to stand out again in front of a prime-time national audience.
Gabbard’s landmark moment in the last debate came when she criticized U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) record as California attorney general. It became a pivotal moment of the night.
“Senator Harris said she’s proud of her record as a prosecutor and that she’ll be a prosecutor president, but, I’m deeply concerned about this record,” Harris said.
She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations, and then laughed about it when she was asked if she’d ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence that would have freed a man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.
— America Rising (@AmericaRising) August 1, 2019
Harris’ support fell the most of any candidate in post-debate polls following a poorly received debate performance where the California senator fielded attacks from candidates across the stage. While Gabbard saw no significant jump in the polls after the event to launch her into the next round of debates, she met the donor threshold shortly after and was once again the most-searched candidate following the night, just as she was after the first debate in June.
Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls show Gabbard with an average of 1.3 percent support.