Kirsten Gillibrand Shifts Her Stand On Running For President
With the election over, New York's junior Senator seems to have changed her mind about running for President.
Less than forty-eight hours after the midterms ended and confirmed her easy victory in a bid for re-election, New York’s junior Senator is talking about running for President:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday gave her strongest public indication yet that she was contemplating a run for president in 2020, telling the late-night show host Stephen Colbert she would “give it a long, hard thought of consideration.”
“I’ve seen the hatred and the division that President Trump has put out into our country, and it has called me to fight as hard as I possibly can to restore the moral compass of this country,” Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said in what sounded like the makings of a campaign theme.
Ms. Gillibrand, who won re-election to her second full term on Tuesday, had for months brushed aside questions about her 2020 ambitions by saying she was focused fully on 2018.
But with the midterms behind her, Mr. Colbert asked Ms. Gillibrand if there was “another election that you might be concentrating on.” She closed her eyes, smiled and nodded almost knowingly before answering.
“I do think it’s an important question,” she said.
Colbert jumped in: “It is an important question. That’s why I asked it.”
She called it “a moral question for me,” before eventually saying: “I believe right now that every one of us should figure out how we can do whatever we can with our time, with our talents to restore that moral decency, that moral compass and that truth of who we are as Americans. So I will promise you I will give it a long, hard thought of consideration.”
“That close,” Mr. Colbert joked.
Ms. Gillibrand’s appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” came on her first stop in a heavy media tour following the midterms. She also has appearances scheduled on “Good Morning America,” “The View” and “The Daily Show,” and other cable news appearances are in the works.
The media blitz coincides with the publication of an illustrated children’s book she wrote, “Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote.” It is set to be released Nov. 13.
Ms. Gillibrand has planned a small book tour, which includes stops in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Albany and New York City through mid-December.
Ms. Gillibrand, who was appointed to the Senate in 2009 to replace Hillary Clinton after Mrs. Clinton was nominated as secretary of state, won roughly two-thirds of the vote in her election on Tuesday. The 3.73 million votes she received were the most for any candidate in New York this year — nearly 400,000 more than Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who is also considered a potential presidential candidate. He just won election to a third term as governor and has denied interest in a 2020 run.
Ms. Gillibrand spent minimally on her campaign. Her campaign chest actually grew from the beginning of the year through October, the opposite direction of most bank accounts during campaigns. She has more than $10.6 million in the bank, all of which could be used to jump-start a presidential run.
More from The Washington Post:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Thursday she would give a 2020 presidential bid “a long, hard thought of consideration,” marking a shift in posture from how she addressed questions about her ambitions during her just-concluded reelection campaign.
Gillibrand, who was initially appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat and won reelection Tuesday, addressed the issue during an appearance on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The host asked if there were “another election that you might be concentrating on.”
Gillibrand called that “an important question.”
“I believe right now that every one of us should figure out how we can do whatever we can with our time, with our talents to restore that moral decency, that moral compass and that truth of who we are as Americans,” she told Colbert. “So I will promise you I will give it a long, hard thought of consideration.”
During her campaign for reelection, Gillibrand brushed off questions about 2020, pledging in one debate to serve out her full six-year term representing New York.
If she runs, Gillibrand is expected to be part of a crowded field of Democrats, including several of her colleagues from the Senate.
During her Senate tenure, Gillibrand has been outspoken on issues such as sexual assault in the military, sexual harassment, equal pay for women and family leave.
It was just a couple weeks ago, of course, during the final debate between Gillibrand and her hapless Republican opponent, who ended up getting just one-third of the vote, that Gillibrand said that she intended to serve her full six-year term if she were re-elected as expected. Here’s how that issue came up during the debate, as summarized by Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, who notes that Gillibrand was asked twice about the issue during that debate:
Moderator: ”Can you tell New Yorkers, who plan to vote for you on November 6, that you will, if re-elected, serve out your six-year Senate term?”
Gillibrand: ”I will.”
Moderator: ”Just want to make this clear, you’re saying that you will not get out of the race and you will not run for president? You will serve your six years?”
Gillibrand: ”I will serve my six-year term.”
Gillibrand’s statement at the debate stood in contrast to contemporaneous comments from the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both of whom were also up for re-election this week. In both cases, the candidates refused to rule out the idea of running for President in two years and, in both cases, it certainly didn’t have any impact on the outcome of their respective elections. Warren beat her Republican opponent by roughly 650,000 votes and Sanders beat his opponent by just under 110,000 votes. This is a clear indication that leaving the door open to a 2020 run for President did not harm either of those candidates, and the same is likely true of Gillibrand. To be frank about it, it is unlikely that Gillibrand would have harmed herself at all if she had answered the 2020 question in the same way that Warren and Sanders did. As the election results indicate, her Republican opponent mounted what ended up being a token campaign in the end and its unlikely that many of the more than 3.7 million people who voted for her would have changed their votes based on the possibility that she might not stay in office depending on how the 2020 campaign turns out, or that she might be distracted from her duties as Senator by a Presidential run that, if she is to be taken seriously, will have to begin in at least some form by the spring of next years.
As I noted at the time, Gillibrand’s response to the 2020 question during the debate is similar to the one we typically hear from candidates who have been the subject of Presidential speculation who are running for election or re-election. The most recent example of this, of course, is Barack Obama, who dismissed talk of running for President right up to the moment he declared his candidacy in 2007, and it was clear later on that he had been planning a bid for at least a year prior to that. Viewed in that light, Gillibrand’s denial three weeks ago and her seeming reversal yesterday is something that is so commonplace that it’s hard to get all that worked up about. No doubt, New York voters who have been following the race were well aware of the fact that Gillibrand has been the subject of Presidential speculation, and so has New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who won his race for another term by more than 1.3 million votes. Cuomo also ruled out the idea of running for President while he was still facing what turned out to be a rather pointless primary challenge from actress Cynthia Nixon, but as with Gillibrand that hasn’t stopped the speculation that he may end up running anyway. In his case as well, there are no signs that the voters of New York disaproved of what some might consider to be his untruthfulness.
Whether Gillibrand actually ends up running remains to be seen. If she does,though, I doubt that Democratic voters are going to hold this against her.