U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Tuesday night on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that she will run for the presidency in 2020.
Gillibrand, 52, a Democrat representing New York who was a congresswoman in a conservative upstate district before becoming a U.S. senator, said she will “start by restoring what’s been lost” under President Donald Trump by “listening” and looking for ways to “find common ground.”
“What he has done is absolutely outrageous," Gillibrand said of Trump during an interview with Colbert, "and so what I would do differently is, I would bring people together and talk about why I care."
Gillibrand said she is forming an exploratory committee, which will allow her to begin a presidential campaign and raise money without formally declaring. But Tuesday she made her intentions clear: “I am going to run.”
"As a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own," she said.
Since being appointed in 2009 by then-Gov. David A. Paterson to the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton, Gillibrand has moved to the left on several issues. She once had an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and boasted of sleeping with guns under her bed — she’s now an advocate of gun control. Gillibrand was a fierce foe of amnesty for people in the country illegally — she’s now in favor of DACA, an Obama-era program to grant amnesty to young people brought to the country as children illegally.
In an interview last year on "60 Minutes," Gillibrand said she was “embarrassed” by some of her prior political positions.
Gillibrand told a debate audience in the fall during her Senate re-election campaign that she would serve out her six-year term if voters returned her to office.
She joins a growing list of Democratic presidential candidates that includes Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and Obama-administration secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who both announced their intentions to run Saturday. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced on New Year's Eve that she had formed a presidential exploratory committee. Others expected to enter the Democratic field for the White House are former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Sens. Corey Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Beto O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman who narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the November election for one of the state's two U.S. Senate seats.
Gillibrand was Colbert's first guest before director M. Night Shyamalan during the 6 p.m. taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan. She boasted of her work helping secure health care for 9/11 first responders and repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," a Bill Clinton-era policy that barred openly gay people from serving in the military.
If elected president, Gillibrand said she’d address racism, “corruption and greed in Washington” and "the special interests that write legislation in the dead of night.”
“You are never going to accomplish any of these things if you don’t take on the systems of power that make all of that impossible,” she said to applause from the studio audience.
At the end of the segment, which was scheduled for broadcast late Tuesday night, Colbert gave Gillibrand, a lawyer who once represented the tobacco company formerly known as Philip Morris, a basket with joke gifts, including corn to use in Iowa, a baby doll to clutch, a plane ticket to campaign in Michigan — a state Hillary Clinton famously avoided in the 2016 presidential campaign — and a giant button that said, "I announced on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
Gillibrand, who has on occasion used off-color language during speeches, was asked by Colbert whether she would stop cursing on the campaign trail.
“I’m gonna definitely try” she answered.
Gillibrand said she’s willing to work with Republicans, and pointed to her cosponsorship of legislation with Cruz to combat sexual assault in the military.
“Me and Ted Cruz,” she said to a mix of laughter and applause.
Colbert interjected: “Thank you for believing in something so much you were willing to talk to Ted Cruz.”