The Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand is running for president.
At a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Tuesday evening, Gillibrand shared that she was officially joining the race for the White House. Announcing that she was assembling an exploratory committee and would soon be on her way to Iowa, she told Colbert she was running as a mom as she outlined key parts of her platform:
“I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I’d fight for my own, which is why I believe healthcare should be a right, not a privilege; it’s why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn’t matter what block you grew up on; and I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class.”
Gillibrand is a strong critic of Donald Trump and has worked to block many of his priorities. She was also an early advocate for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (Ice) and has been vocal about advancing women’s rights – earning a title from 60 Minutes as the “#MeToo Senator”.
Gillibrand’s dedication to outing predators precedes the movement and she has long been a vocal ally of victims of assault and harassment in workplaces, in the military and at universities. But her criticism of high-ranking men in her own party have angered some would-be supporters.
She has stated that the former president Bill Clinton should have resigned, and was among the first to call out Senator Al Franken following multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. George Soros, a prominent Democratic funder, said that, as a result, she wouldn’t be getting his support. Soros called her an “opportunist” who spoke out against Franken to bolster her political brand.
In a statement to HuffPost, she replied: “If standing up for women who have been wronged makes George Soros mad, that’s on him. But I won’t hesitate to always do what I think is right.”
The Republican National Committee wasted no time in targeting Gillibrand. Just hours after the announcement, Republicans published a video featuring the Democrat apologizing, over a backing track of Bryan Adams’ song Please Forgive Me. “From jumping on the ‘abolish Ice’ bandwagon to turning on the Clintons, Gillibrand always goes where the political wind blows,” said the Republican spokesman Michael Ahrens in a statement sent to the Guardian.
Gillibrand, meanwhile, released a video of her own:
There is no dominant early front-runner in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic nominating race to take on Trump, the likely Republican nominee. The Texas Democrat Julian Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and top US housing official, formally launched his White House bid on Saturday.
The former US congressman John Delaney has been running for more than a year.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formed an exploratory committee last month and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said Friday that she will run for president.
Some in the party believe an establishment figure who can appeal to centrist voters is the way to victory. Others argue a fresh face, and particularly a diverse one, is needed to energize the party’s increasingly left-leaning base.
Gillibrand was a member of the centrist and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition while in the House of Representatives. Her positions became more liberal after she was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton in New York when Clinton became Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
Gillibrand backs a Medicare-for-all bill championed by Democratic party liberals.
“I believe healthcare should be a right and not a privilege,” Gillibrand told Colbert. In a dig at Trump, Gillibrand said the first thing she would do if elected to the White House is “restore what’s been lost” like the “integrity and compassion of this country.”
Trump and Gillibrand have sparred publicly in the past. In December 2017, the president targeted her with a sexually tinged tweet, calling her a “total flunky” who had “come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)”.
Gillibrand shot back immediately on Twitter.
“You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office,” she wrote.