What are Gabbard’s chances of clinching the Democratic nomination?

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard launched her presidential campaign last weekend. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard launched her presidential campaign last weekend. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Feb. 7, 2019 at 3:24 PM HST
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Political analysts aren't ruling her out.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is facing an uphill climb less than a week after launching her presidential campaign.

Her past stance on LGBT couples, her visit with Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad and other issues are all coming under scrutiny.

And political analysts say while her nomination is a longshot, she might still have a chance.

Gabbard is running in a crowded field of Democratic contenders.

Political analyst Todd Belt, of George Washington University, says her path to the Democratic nomination is a narrow one.

“I would really hate to say that she looks like an also ran at this time,” he said.

But Belt also isn’t writing off the 37-year-old.

“Anybody could catch fire,” he said, adding that Gabbard could move into frontrunner consideration if she stands out in debates, bolsters her social media presence, and drowns out a controversial past.

That includes opposition to gay marriage years ago ― for which she has apologized ― and her muddied stance on Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad, who some government officials consider a war criminal.

“We’re in an age today where everything you’ve ever done sort of follows you around and gets picked up by opposition research,” Belt said.

[Read more: Days after launching presidential campaign, negative publicity has Gabbard in ‘weak position’]

The Republican party, meanwhile, is chomping at the bit.

“There’s no doubt that we’d love to see Tulsi Gabbard as the nominee,” said Kayleigh McEnany, of the Republican National Committee.

McEnany says Gabbard is a radical candidate whose policy priorities like Medicare for all will not fare well against the likely GOP candidate ― President Donald Trump.

“Perhaps she’ll do well in a Democratic field where you do have a lot of radical far leftists that make up the Democratic base,” McEnany said.

Despite appearing on national television several times over the last week, Gabbard and her team have declined requests for interviews with Hawaii News Now.

But her camp did release a series of statements Thursday to a reporter with HNN’s parent company, Gray TV.

“My message is a simple one — we need to take the resources that we’ve been spending for decades on regime-change wars and the money that we’re now starting to spend on a new cold war and nuclear arms race, and redirect those resources and invest them in our communities here at home. I’m confident that the American people will feel the same way," Gabbard said, in response to a question about who her base is.

She also responded to criticisms over her past LGBT views and her meeting with Assad.

“My record in Congress reflects my heart. For over six years in Congress, I have fought for LGBT equality and have a 100% legislative rating from the top LGBT advocacy organization in the country — the Human Rights Campaign. To further our national security interests and the cause of peace, we need to be ready to meet with adversaries and those we disagree with — the only alternative is war and more war," she said.

This story will be updated.

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