Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, running for president, won't seek re-election to Congress

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By Phil Helsel  with NBC News Politics
Tulsi Gabbard
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.   -   Copyright  Charlie Neibergall AP

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said Thursday that she will not run for re-election for her U.S. representative seat, saying she wants to focus on trying to secure her party's nomination to challenge President Donald Trump.

Gabbard, who represents Hawaii, made the announcement in a video and email to supporters.

"I believe that I can best serve the people of Hawaii and our country as your president and commander-in-chief," Gabbard said in the video.

She also expressed gratitude to the people of Hawaii for her nearly seven years in Congress.

In January, Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele, a Democrat, said he would run for Gabbard's seat, NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu reported.

An Iowa Democratic caucus poll out this week put Gabbard at 3 percent, with former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the top three spots.

She is in a crowded field of Democrats seeking the nomination to run for president. Another candidate, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ended his long-shot presidential campaign Thursday.