Her first major campaign speech will be on the steps of the Trump International Hotel.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is now formally running for president in 2020, and her first major campaign stop is designed to make a statement: She will be rallying on the steps of the Trump International Hotel in New York City.
The New York lawmaker known for her #MeToo advocacy formally announced her bid in a video posted to Twitter Sunday morning, joining a crowded field of candidates looking to turn Donald Trump into a one-term president.
In a highly-produced announcement video entitled “Brave Wins,” Gillibrand juxtaposes an optimistic agenda toward progress against the fear-mongering policies of Trump. Highlighting her record in combating sexual assault in the military and going against the Wall Street bailout, Gillibrand lays out an unapologetically progressive agenda promoting universal healthcare, paid family leave, an end to gun violence, and support for the Green New Deal.
“Brave doesn’t pit people against each other. Brave doesn’t put money over lives. Brave doesn’t spread hate. Cloud truth. Build a wall. That’s what fear does,” she says in a voice-over to a montage of news clips covering Trump, immigration and the NRA.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) March 17, 2019
Gillibrand first launched her exploratory committee in January with an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she emphasized that women are the future of the Democratic Party. “You have to start by restoring what’s been lost, restoring our leadership in the world,” she said at the time.
She has already been making the campaign swing through the early primary states Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. And in the coming week she’s scheduled to meet voters in New Hampshire, Nevada, and Michigan before looping back in Iowa once again.
Gillibrand, 52, had earned a reputation as a strong advocate for the rights of women and survivors even before the #MeToo era — though her office isn’t immune to criticisms that it mishandles sexual assault allegations. She has repeatedly introduced a bill in Congress called the FAMILY Act, which would provide 12 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and fathers.
But her positions across-the-board have evolved since she first joined Congress in 2006. As Vox’s Li Zhou and Emily Stewart noted when Gillibrand launched her exploratory committee, the senator once known as a centrist Democrat is going to have to explain her shift to the left.
Gillibrand will likely be pressed on this shift during her campaign. While she’s now one of the most progressive members in the upper chamber — backing the abolishment of ICE, turning down corporate PAC money, and advocating stringent gun control laws — she was once a relatively centrist Blue Dog Democrat in the House who was awarded an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Similarly, she once backed a more conservative immigration policy, which rejected amnesty for any undocumented immigrants.
Since joining the Senate, she’s become significantly more progressive and now says she’s “embarrassed” about her past positions on both policies. Gillibrand previously represented an upstate New York district with more conservative leanings. She’s said that meeting with constituents and people who have been affected by gun violence and immigration policies have helped reshape her stances on these issues.
Gillibrand is currently trailing far behind in the polls, according to tracking from Real Clear Politics. But as we’ve seen in the past, surveys this far out from the election are far from a clear predictor of the eventual nominee.