GOFFSTOWN — A day after stating that it shouldn’t have been “that hard” for former Vice President Joe Biden to apologize for comments about cooperation with segregationist senators in the 1970s, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she saw no need to express regret for a handful of conservative positions she held when she was first elected to Congress in 2006.
Addressing reporters following her appearance Tuesday at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics “Politics & Eggs” speaker series, the 2020 contender told the Union Leader that her willingness to evolve on issues of immigration and gun control was an indication of “wisdom” and “humility” that would serve her well in the Oval Office.
“I think it’s better to have candidates that have the humility to recognize when they’re wrong,” said Gillibrand. “I’ve been asked those questions over a dozen times by national networks and not only did I say I was wrong, but I have led on comprehensive immigration reform for over a decade, I’ve led on issues of ending gun violence for over a decade.”
“I think we need a president who has the humility to recognize when they’re wrong, who has the wisdom to listen to their constituents and learn from them, and has the courage to not only change their view, but lead from that new view, and that’s what I’ve done for over a decade.”
While Gillibrand currently sports an “F” rating from the NRA and has made a pathway to citizenship and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cornerstones of her immigration platform, these views stand in stark contrast to those she held during the three years she served as the Congresswoman of New York’s historically Republican 20th Congressional District.
That period saw a Gillibrand — then proudly toting an “A+” rating from the NRA — who campaigned as a moderate Democrat, and went on to support legislation that limited the sharing of tracking data for guns used in crimes, called for increased funding of ICE and opposed amnesty for those who were in the country illegally.
“When I decided to run in that district, I knew one thing: I knew I could travel the district, I could listen to voters, understand their concerns and then I could fight for them. And I would fight for them as if they were my own family members,” said Gillibrand in her prepared remarks.
Although she’s been seen as a Democratic rising star since her 2009 appointment to Hillary Clinton’s former Senate seat, Gillibrand has so far struggled to gain momentum among the sprawling assembly of 24 presidential candidates, a field that was joined Tuesday by hedge fund billionaire turned progressive activist Tom Steyer.
In an effort to distinguish herself from her 2020 rivals, Gillibrand has staked out a host of positions centered on women and families, ranging from codifying the right to an abortion into US law to a Family Bill of Rights that includes provisions like national paid family leave and universal pre-K.
“President Trump doesn’t care about other people,” said Gillibrand of one of the top reasons she’s running in 2020. “He has no empathy at all, and he doesn’t have any compassion. He doesn’t understand what’s happening to families across the country who are suffering, he turns a blind eye and we have to stop that.”
“That’s why you need a President who actually cares. Just imagine what a working mom in the White House would do as opposed to a misogynist. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t be able to do.”