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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard staffers reportedly blindsided by 2020 announcement

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Staffers for Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii reportedly did not know she was announcing her candidacy for the 2020 US Presidential election during an interview roughly three weeks ago, a decision she allegedly vacillated on for weeks, according to a Politico report Tuesday.

During the Thanksgiving weekend, Gabbard’s team began campaign preparations as speculation over her candidacy reached a fever pitch. Gabbard ultimately backed down on making a decision, Politico reported, only to revisit the idea again after several weeks.

This trend reportedly continued throughout the holiday season.

When Gabbard made her formal announcement during a CNN interview that aired on January 12, her staffers were reportedly caught off guard. Preparations for a full rollout were not yet made, including the campaign website and social media posts.

Gabbard’s campaign manager along with a consulting firm are scheduled to leave after this weekend, according to Politico’s sources. A spokesperson reportedly said campaign manager Rania Batrice remained a “long-time advisor and friend,” and said that the consulting firm was just contracted for the initial stages of the campaign.

Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran and rising star in Congress, faces mounting criticism as she re-enters the political spotlight.

Following her campaign announcement — and amid President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria — Gabbard was widely criticized for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017. Gabbard is accused of downplaying the Syrian regime’s role in chemical attacks that have killed scores of civilians, despite the Trump administration saying it had “very high confidence” that Syria was responsible.

The congresswoman’s controversial stance towards the LGBT community was also recently unearthed, forcing her to release an apology through a roughly four-minute video.

“In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong, and worse, hurtful to people in the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones,” Gabbard said in a comment on her video.”I’m deeply sorry for having said and believed them.”

Gabbard’s campaign did not respond to INSIDER’s request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

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