Tulsi Gabbard, rising Democratic star from Hawaii, makes mark on party by defying it

Tulsi Gabbard, rising Democratic star from Hawaii, makes mark on party by defying it
Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Between the chilly temperatures and the pace of the push-ups, there was plenty to complain about after eight lawmakers straggled into the park behind the Longworth House Office Building for their regular 6:30 a.m. workout.

While the others in the group griped and groaned on a recent Tuesday, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, 34, her Hindu prayer beads wrapped around a wrist for her daily yoga meditation, said little.

“Tulsi, you hearing a lot of whining?” asked RepresentativeMarkwayne Mullin, a burly Oklahoma Republican and former professional mixed martial arts fighter who leads the workouts, mocking the complaints of her companions.

“I’m feeling like whining,” she replied between push-ups.

Ms. Gabbard, Democrat of Hawaii, has a reputation among her colleagues for being a composed, contemplative presence in a chamber more prone to reaction than reflection. But lately she has started to shed that persona. Since the deadly attacks in Paris, she has become a high-profile critic of President Obama’s policies in Syria by amplifying her argument that President Bashar al-Assad should stay in power to avoid elevating the Islamic State and by introducing legislation to defund American efforts to overthrow him.

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