Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the sixth U.S. senator to enter...

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the sixth U.S. senator to enter the Democratic primary race. Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand formally entered the 2020 presidential race on Sunday, launching a full-fledged campaign effort — with a video taking aim at President Donald Trump — after months of exploring a run for the White House.

Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced plans to hold her campaign's first major rally next Sunday in front of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan — previewing what could be another clash between two New Yorkers vying for the Oval Office after the 2016 race between Queens-born Trump and Westchester resident Hillary Clinton.

In a nearly three-minute video clip, Gillibrand touts her record as New York’s junior senator, pitching herself as a “brave, bold” leader, against news footage of Trump’s most controversial policies and remarks.

"Brave doesn't pit people against one another. Brave doesn't put money over lives. Brave doesn't spread hate, cloud truth, build a wall. That's what fear does," Gillibrand says in the video titled “Brave Wins.”

Gillibrand announced in January that she was forming an exploratory committee to weigh a possible run, but has struggled to break ahead in polls of the growing field of Democratic contenders. She is the sixth U.S. senator to enter the Democratic primary race, and the fifth woman in a largely diverse pool of more than a dozen candidates.

A Real Clear Politics analysis of all 2020 Democratic polls conducted between Feb. 14 and March 10, found Gillibrand tied for last among support for 12 potential candidates. Gillibrand garnered an average 0.5 percent support, compared  with the leader of the pack, former Vice President Joe Biden, who received an average of 29 percent support. Biden has not officially entered the race, but has hinted for weeks that he is weighing a run.

Gillibrand needs to break 1 percent in order to appear in a series of debates sponsored by the Democratic National Committee that will start in June.

For the past month, Gillibrand, who hails from upstate, has been speaking to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California and Texas, and raising money for her 2020 effort.

Gillibrand, who easily won her Senate re-election bid last year, has $10.3 million in cash on hand from her Senate campaign, according to her federal campaign finance reports, that she can now transfer to her presidential campaign.

In using Trump’s luxury hotel as the backdrop for her campaign kickoff rally, and targeting him in her first major campaign video, Gillibrand looks to set herself apart from a field of candidates who have taken aim at Trump’s policies and rhetoric, but have tried to avoid making him the centerpiece of their campaign messaging.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to Gillibrand's video, but last December, after Gillibrand said Trump should resign due to allegations of sexual misconduct that have trailed him since the 2016 campaign, Trump attacked her on Twitter calling her “a total flunky” and describing her as “someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions.”

At the time, Gillibrand replied: “You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office.”

Gillibrand will ramp up her campaign schedule this week — headlining an MSNBC town hall on Monday in Michigan, a state Democrats lost to Trump in 2016, followed by campaign stops in Iowa and Nevada, before returning to New York City for her campaign kickoff speech.

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