"I have chose to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week", Rep. Gabbard, 37, an Iraq War veteran as well as the first Hindu and first Samoan-American elected to the U.S. Congress, told CNN. A formal announcement of her candidacy will follow in the coming weeks, Gabbard said in comments released by CNN on Friday evening.
Since being elected to the House, Gabbard became the vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, but left the post so she could endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 presidential nomination; she gave the nominating speech putting his name forward at the 2016 national convention.
While her support for Sanders' economic message may turn off libertarians for obvious reasons, it's hard to imagine there being anyone in either major party primary who will be more critical of America's wasteful and seemingly endless post-9/11 wars.
Gabbard said health care access, criminal justice reform and climate change would be central to her message, but cited one factor as paramount, asserting, "There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace".
"There are a lot of reasons for me to make this decision".
Gabbard is now serving her fourth term in congress after being elected in 2012 to the US House, serving Hawaiʻi's 2nd District.
Ms Gabbard was one of the most prominent lawmakers to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. But the last three general elections have been won by the major party candidate who staked out the more dovish position on America's foreign wars-so don't count her out right away.
She has also courted controversy by picking a fight with Hawaii Sen. Bernie Sanders, are now weighing whether to run for president and are expected to announce their decision soon.
Gabbard's declaration follows a December 12 appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball" in which she said she was "seriously considering" a presidential run.
Ms Gabbard's run would not be without controversy.
"Tulsi Gabbard has an even bigger problem than her lack of experience - it's that she has no base of support", Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said. She has made no secret of her controversial views on the Middle East and Islam, and criticized Obama for refusing to use the phrase "radical Islam" to discuss jihadist groups.
Former US vice president Joe Biden has also expressed his interest in the 2020 bid.