With roughly two dozen Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination in 2020 to take on President Donald Trump, there has been plenty of chatter about how the sizeable field needs to start shrinking.
There will be at least one fewer Democrat candidate on the campaign trail over the next few weeks, as Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has temporarily placed her campaign on hold so she can participate in a two-week training exercise with her fellow Army National Guard troops.
Training exercise in Indonesia
“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 told CBS reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns.
“I love our country. I love being able to serve our country in so many ways including as a soldier,” the congresswoman explained. “And so while some people are telling me, ‘like, gosh, this is a terrible time to leave the campaign, can’t you find a way out of it?’ You know, that’s not what this is about.”
“I’m not really thinking about how this will impact my campaign. I’m looking forward to being able to fulfill my service and my responsibility,” she added. “You know, it’s part of what I really appreciate and I’m grateful for being able to serve our country.”
Shaped by military service
This isn’t the first time that Gabbard has set aside her political career temporarily to meet her military obligations, as she similarly took two weeks off from Congress in 2017 to report for active duty with her unit.
Gabbard has served with the Hawaii Army National Guard since the mid-2000s and deployed with her unit to Iraq for a combat tour from 2004 to 2005. She also served in a second deployment with her unit to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009 to help train the Kuwaiti military.
The congresswoman firmly believes that her military service provides her with a unique perspective that few others in Congress possess, that of a politician and a soldier, and she also maintains that such experience also sets her apart from the other candidates seeking the presidential nomination.
“It’s impossible to separate the experience that I have serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee, on the Armed Services Committee, as we’re going through these exercises and I think it’s an added value in bringing these two different perspectives together — those of the policymakers in Washington and that of a soldier,” she explained.
Gabbard is one of the few politicians on the left that understands and embraces patriotism and service to the country, and that is exemplified by her decision to place her presidential campaign on the backburner so she can take part in a training exercise from which, in all likelihood, she could have been excused.
Hopefully, all will go well for Gabbard and her unit as they train in Indonesia over the next couple of weeks, and she will have even more insightful experiences from which to draw as she returns to the campaign trail once the exercise concludes.