Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said Tuesday evening that she is launching a presidential exploratory committee, throwing her hat into a crowded field of potential 2020 White House candidates.
Gillibrand, who was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after President-elect Barack Obama nominated second-term Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, made the announcement in an interview on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” Gillibrand told Colbert.
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) January 15, 2019
“It’s an important first step, and it’s one I am taking because I am going to run,” the New York Democrat added. She listed a series of issues she would tackle as president, including better health care for families, stronger public schools and more accessible job training. Near the end of their interview, Colbert presented Gillibrand with a basket of campaign gifts, including an ear of yellow corn to wave in Iowa, a piece of granite for New Hampshire and a one-of-a-kind button that reads “I announced on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Gillibrand, 52, has already made plans to campaign in Iowa over the weekend, more than a year before the leadoff caucus state votes.
The lawmaker joins an ever-growing field for the Democrat nomination that could feature more than a dozen candidates. Already, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has announced her own exploratory efforts, and decisions by a number of other senators are expected in the coming weeks.
Gillibrand has been among the Senate’s most vocal members on issues like sexual harassment, military sexual assault, equal pay for women and family leave, issues that could be central to her presidential campaign. “I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” said Gillibrand, a mother of two sons, ages 10 and 15.
Appearing on ABC’s The View in November, Gillibrand (D-NY) accused President Donald Trump of ushering “hatred” to the forefront of civil, claiming that she believes she has “been called” to mount a White House bid restore “moral decency.”
“We certainly need oversight and accountability. The Republican Congress refused to hold President Trump accountable on any of the issues that you mentioned, whether it’s Russia’s involvement in the election, whether it’s self-dealing or lining the pockets of the cabinet members and of Trump and his family,” she said. “You’ve never seen, in my opinion, an administration that has more corruption than this one, so they have to do their jobs.”
However, several questions loom large over Gillibrand’s candidacy, including the distancing of herself from the bipartisan “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” which opposes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), an anti-semitic movement singling out Israel.
As Breitbart News’s Aaron Klein reported extensively:
Gillibrand has refused to back the bill, which is co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Sen. Cory Booker and would impose monetary penalties on those working in an “official commercial capacity” who support any international government’s efforts to boycott Israel.
Gillibrand was an original co-sponsor of the pro-Israel legislation, but she stunningly withdrew her support after meeting with the heavily George Soros-funded American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the matter. Also, her initial sponsorship for the anti-BDS bill was questioned at town halls by such radical anti-Israel groups as Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, both of which support the BDS movement.
The New York politician claimed she withdrew her support over charges that the legislation had some civil liberties issues. This even though free speech champions within her own party support the bill and reject the notion that the legislation impedes civil liberties.
Gillibrand also seemingly enjoys the support of prominent anti-Israel activists, including Linda Sarsour, who introduced the New York Democrat to attendees of an anti-Brett Kavanaugh rally as a lawmaker “who works for us on the inside.” The event, held outside the Supreme Court, was co-organized by anti-Israel radical and fellow Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory. “I want to introduce to you another champion, another one of our people who works for us on the inside. Someone who understands that she works for the people of this country, who’s been speaking up against sexual assault and sexual violence before there was a Brett Kavanaugh. Please give it up for the senator,” Sarsour said in her introduction of Gillibrand.
In July, Gillibrand came out in favor of abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), stating that it should be the “first thing” Democrats do if they retake the House and Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. “We should… I think we should get rid of ICE,” Gillibrand said during a panel organized by Ozy.com. “We should separate out the two missions. And do the anti-terrorism mission, the national security mission. And then on the other side, make sure you’re doing… looking at immigration as a humanitarian issue. These are civil issues, these are families.” Getting rid of ICE would free at least 1.4 million criminal illegal aliens in the past five years who are in federal custody. Further, at least 1.6 million illegal aliens would have been released into communities across America in the last half decades if the agency had been eliminated.
As she works to distinguish herself from likely rivals, Gillibrand will be able to draw from the more than $10.5 million left over from her 2018 re-election campaign that she can use toward a presidential run.
Gillibrand pledged during her Senate campaign that she would serve out her six-year term if re-elected.
She will use Troy, New York, where she lives, as a home base for her presidential efforts.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.