Kirsten Gillibrand Formally Joins Democratic Race for President

March 18, 2019by Michael Finnegan

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York formally announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Sunday, casting herself as the party’s strongest champion of reversing President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Gillibrand, who launched an exploratory committee in January, has been campaigning for months.

But she used a formal video announcement online to draw fresh attention at a time when rivals Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have been dominating coverage of the crowded race, along with former Vice President Joe Biden, another likely contender.

More than a dozen Democrats are already running, including several women for the first time.

The video highlighted Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim travel to the U.S., his administration’s separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border and the 2017 march of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., that led to violence.

Playing off the “home of the brave” line of the national anthem, Gillibrand says: “Brave doesn’t spread hate, cloud truth, build a wall — that’s what fear does.”

She called for universal health care, paid family leave for all, a stop to gun violence and passage of liberal lawmakers’ Green New Deal proposal to end the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Gillibrand’s announcement came less than a week after her image as a champion of the #MeToo movement was shaken by a Politico report of alleged sexual harassment in her Senate office.

A former Gillibrand aide resigned after accusing her office in a letter last August of mishandling her complaint of harassment by Abbas Malik, a special assistant to the senator, Politico reported.

Gillibrand declined to fire Malik at the time, but dismissed him this month after Politico inquired about the matter. A spokeswoman said the termination came after a new allegation of troubling comments arose.

Gillibrand told reporters the initial complaint “was taken very seriously from the beginning.”

“I deeply valued her,” she said of the aide who filed the complaint.

While many have applauded Gillibrand’s advocacy on issues of concern to women — she highlighted her efforts against sexual assault in the military on Sunday — some Democrats have accused her of rushing to judgment in 2017 on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

Gillibrand was the first senator to call on Franken to resign after reports of sexual misconduct, which he eventually did.

In her video, Gillibrand, 52, stressed her potential appeal to independents. She said she “voted against the Wall Street bailout while both parties threw billions at the banks” and “turned a red district blue against all odds,” alluding to her 2006 capture of a Republican congressional district in upstate New York.

Over the next week, Gillibrand plans to campaign in the states with the first three Democratic nominating contests in 2020: Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

On Monday, she will hold a town hall, televised on MSNBC, in a swing area of the Detroit suburbs. March 24, she plans to give a major speech outside Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle.

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©2019 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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