Trump or a Democrat in 2020: Who Will It Be? Part Three

When I was much younger and “who should be the next President?” discussions began among my parents’ friends, their consensus pick was always the candidate who — in their collective opinion — was the most qualified for the job. The “qualification” qualifier seems is still important, but, in many cases, that qualifier no longer simply political prowess, knowledge, and life history that proves the capability of a candidate to be President. Now it seems presidential choices must be weighted — weighted toward women over men, toward people of color over white candidates, those who are pro-abortion as contrasted to those opposed to abortion, etc. And it seems the list of litmus tests for determination of who is qualified to serve seems to be getting longer and longer.

It seems to many that 2020 may be the year for someone who fits one of the “preferred” classes from that list to go to the White House. And to that end, the Senator from New York might just be the most qualified from that list to head to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

If one watches the very public actions of Leftists — like various cause demonstrations, midterm election campaign appearances, rallies for liberal causes — seeing Kirsten Gillibrand is going to happen often. She is forceful, consistent, and dogmatic about the liberal political agenda: Same-Sex Marriage, Abortion, all of the “-ists” and “-phobias,” Open Borders, Women’s Rights, and hiking taxes on the wealthy. And she is demonstrative with her malice for President Trump. In today’s divisive political America, Kirsten Gillibrand may just be the perfect “Poster Girl” for Democrats. (Oops! I said Poster “Girl.” That’s sexist of me!)

Who Is She?

Kirsten Gillibrand (born December 9, 1966) is an American attorney and politician serving as the junior United States Senator from New York since January 2009. She previously held the position of U.S. Representative for New York’s 20th congressional district from 2007 until her Senate appointment. In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama nominated second-term incumbent U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton as United States Secretary of State, leaving an empty seat in the Senate. New York Governor David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to fill the vacancy, and she was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on January 26, 2009. Gillibrand was required to run in a special election in 2010 to keep her seat, and she won the election with 63% of the vote. She was reelected to a full six-year term in 2012 with 72% of the vote, receiving a higher percentage of the vote than any other statewide candidate in New York. In 2018, she received 67% of the vote.

During her Senate tenure, Gillibrand has been outspoken on issues like sexual assault in the military and sexual harassment.

Early Life

Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik was born in Albany, New York, on December 9, 1966. Both her parents are attorneys, and her father has also worked as a lobbyist. Her parents divorced in the late 1980s. She has an older brother and a younger sister. Her maternal grandmother is Dorothea “Polly” Noonan, a founder of the Albany Democratic Women’s Club.

During her childhood and college years, Gillibrand used the nickname “Tina.” She began using her birth name of Kirsten a few years after law school. In 1984, she graduated from Emma Willard School, an all women’s private school located in Troy, New York, and then enrolled at Dartmouth College. Gillibrand majored in Asian Studies, studying in both Beijing and Taiwan. Gillibrand graduated magna cum laude in 1988. During college, Gillibrand interned at Republican U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato’s Albany office. Gillibrand received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law and passed the bar exam in 1991.

Legal Career

In 1991, Gillibrand joined the Manhattan-based law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell as an associate. In 1992, she took a leave from Davis Polk to serve as a law clerk to Judge Roger Miner on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Albany.

Gillibrand’s tenure at Davis Polk is best known for her work as a defense attorney for Philip Morris during major litigation, including both civil lawsuits and U.S. Justice Department criminal and civil racketeering probes. She became a senior associate while working on Philip Morris litigation. 

Following her time at Davis Polk, Gillibrand served as Special Counsel to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Andrew Cuomo during the last year of the Clinton administration.

In 1999, Gillibrand began working on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign, focusing on campaigning to young women and encouraging them to join the effort. Many of those women later worked on Gillibrand’s campaigns. Gillibrand and Clinton became close during the election, with Clinton becoming something of a mentor to the young attorney. Gillibrand donated more than $12,000 to Clinton’s Senate campaigns.

Early Politics

Gillibrand considered running for office in 2004, in New York’s 20th congressional district, against the three-term Republican incumbent John E. Sweeney. However, Hillary Clinton believed circumstances would be more favorable in 2006 and advised her to wait until then.

The 2006 election campaign against Sweeney was very contentious. Scandals on the part of the Republican doomed his re-election bid and Gillibrand won the congressional seat with 53% of the vote. She won her 2008 re-election with 60% of the vote defeating the former NY Secretary of State.

Gillibrand in D.C. quickly joined the Blue Dog Coalition — a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. She served on numerous House committees until after 1 year of her second term in the House she moved across the hall to the Senate after Hillary’s departure to become Obama’s Secretary of State.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in Current Politics

She’s a firebrand. Gillibrand has taken the approach to attack almost every Trump Administration agenda item put forward. Unfortunately for many of her supporters, her consternation with the President and his ideas has turned personal. The presumption for her doing so goes back several years when the two had some very public interaction. It was reported that before his run for President, Gillibrand made frequent attempts to meet with Trump for the purpose of securing his support for her political campaigns. Neither has spoken about the specifics of any of those meetings.

The New York Senator has become an aggressive supporter on the campaign trail for women’s’ rights and to fight sexual misconduct. Gillibrand also recently said she thought Bill Clinton should have resigned in the face of his own sexual misconduct allegations, and she was the first senator to call for fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) to step down.

Early on in the Trump Administration, Gillibrand joined other Democrats that had decided to go after the President on many fronts to find ways to discredit his presidency and push him out of office. She publicly on numerous occasions suggested he resign. After one such instance, he tweeted that as a New York senator she “would do anything for” campaign contributions — which many took to be sexually suggestive. It’s difficult to imagine a bigger gift when it comes to raising Gillibrand’s profile in advance of a 2020 run for the Democratic nomination.

Many Democrats in Washington have begun to accept her as something of a spokesperson for women’s’ causes. In the opinions of many political pundits, she in her support of these causes is building a base for a 2020 run for the White House. She has begun to even discuss Democrat Party messaging to potential voters, even talking about Trump messaging methods that were successful for him in 2016:

Her principle target in almost all of her appearances seems to be “Dump Trump.”

In addition to the normal roadblocks that come with running for President, Gillibrand because of her demonstrative voice in the Democrat Party, is watched very closely in HER messaging. And she sometimes tends to be a bit of a loose cannon in some things she says. In a recent speech, she cited a string of inaccurate economic statistics in an attempt to cast doubt on the health of the economy during a speech at the National Action Network Conference. Gillibrand told the gathered audience several statistics about the unemployment rates for African-American men and women, but a Washington Post fact check found all three statistics she cited were incorrect.

“When they declare victory at 4 percent unemployment, it is not good enough,” Gillibrand said. “Because 4 percent unemployment means an 8 or 9 percent unemployment in some cities for black women. It means a 16 percent unemployment rate for black men. It means young veterans coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, a 20 percent unemployment rate. So our work really isn’t done.”

As of October, the unemployment rate was at 3.7 percent, the lowest it has been since December of 1969. This is lower than the rounded-up figure of 4 percent cited by Gillibrand, but the main issue arises from her citation of statistics on black unemployment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found, in October, that the unemployment rate for black men was 6.2 percent, not 16 percent like Gillibrand claimed. That same study of unemployment rates found that the unemployment rate for black women was 4.9 percent, not 8 or 9 percent.

When asked about these statistics, Gillibrand’s spokesperson, Alex Phillips, said that Gillibrand accidentally dropped “young” from her speech and meant to refer to the unemployment rates of young black men and women.

On the issue of veterans, Gillibrand’s statistic also missed the mark. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that “young veterans” between the ages of 18 and 24 had an unemployment rate of 12.6 percent, lower than Gillibrand’s claim of 20 percent. Veterans between the age of 25 and 34 reported an unemployment rate of 1.9 percent. Phillips claimed Gillibrand “misspoke the stat off the cuff.”

When fact-checking her use of these statistics, the Washington Post concluded, “Somehow, Gillibrand managed to mangle three statistics in three consecutive sentences before a large audience. If you are trying to make the case that you can provide better economic stewardship, you need to get the numbers right first.”

Will Gillibrand Run?

In the context of a large number of those who are rumored to be “considering” a 2020 run for the White House, it is at least six months premature to make a call on a possible Gillibrand run. As uncanny as it may sound, she seems totally immersed in serious consideration to doing so, primarily because of her not too subtle feud with Donald Trump. If that is really what is driving her plans regarding a run, she may find herself running up against a brick wall: Donald Trump is very proficient at creating and perpetuating pretty nasty conflict with anyone. His “Queens messaging” can be pretty crude. It would be tough for Gillibrand to take over the process that the President has seemed to have perfected: using social media to bypass traditional news methods of reaching Americans. Gillibrand has already attempted a number of times to subtly play the victim card in her conflicts with Mr. Trump, and that has not worked very effectively for her. But she has proven to be astute in navigating through the Potomac political environment so far. Only time and an actual run in the primaries will show if she can maintain such a quest.

When asked by Stephen Colbert about the rumors she would run for president in 2020, Gillibrand said, “I believe it is a moral question for me … And as I’ve traveled across my state, across this country for all these candidates, I’ve seen the hatred and 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 … so I will promise you I will give it a long, hard thought of consideration.”

My gut suggests that Gillibrand may (at least at this point) be a little too passionate AGAINST political issues while not yet offering political positions to CHANGE current policies. She also seems to freely offer facts (as in the statistics she in error quoted show above) that are not really facts. One would expect the Media to take a potential presidential candidate to task for committing such a faux pas, BUT she is a Democrat and she is a “she.” For those, a candidate is often given a pass by the Media.

Presidential campaign seasons seem to get longer and longer every four years. Could Gillibrand survive such grueling several years? Only time will tell if Gillibrand has the heart and fortitude for doing so. The last New York Senator to tackle that task was beat up pretty bad. Hillary Clinton as the most widely known female politician was an odds-on favorite to win the presidency in 2016. Hillary failed to live in the White House as President because of 3 losses in her bids for the presidency. Certainly, those losses are weighing heavily into any decision by Gillibrand to take that step.

Only time will tell.


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