US senator puts gender and motherhood at heart of her pitch for the presidency
Kirsten Gillibrand has thrown her hat into the ring to succeed Donald Trump at the White House.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand plans to put gender issues at the heart of her campaign for the US presidency.
Speaking outside a diner in Troy, New York State she said is “a stone’s throw” from her family’s house, Ms Gillibrand framed the campaign as an extension of motherhood.
“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I will fight for your children as hard as I would fight for my own,” Ms Gillibrand, 52, said as she was joined by her husband, Jonathan, their 10- and 15-year-old sons, and her mother, Polly.
Tonight I announced that I’m preparing to run for president, because I believe we’re all called to make a difference. I believe in right vs. wrong – that wrong wins when we do nothing. Now is our time to raise our voices and get off the sidelines. Join me: https://t.co/I1vp93u0wh— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 15, 2019
That argument could resonate in a Democratic primary in which women will be a crucial voting bloc and comes on the heels of a midterm election that sent a record number of women to Congress.
But Ms Gillibrand, who announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee Tuesday on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, faces a series of hurdles.
She will not be the only woman seeking the White House, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii have already jumped into the race, and several other prominent women are expected to soon follow them.
And there are persistent questions about whether, more than two years after Hillary Clinton fell short of the White House, Americans have grappled with sexism and are willing to support another woman running for president.
The first question Ms Gillibrand received at her press conference Wednesday showed the scrutiny she and other women could face, as a reporter said a lot of people see her as “pretty likeable”.
The remark touched on a raging debate about why women in politics are held to a different standard than men regarding their perceived likeability.
First appointed to the Senate in 2009 to fill the seat vacated by Mrs Clinton, Ms Gillibrand has been among the chamber’s most vocal members on issues like sexual harassment, military sexual assault, equal pay for women and paid family leave.
But she angered some fellow Democrats in November 2017 when she said former president Bill Clinton should have resigned after his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
As a mom, I’ll fight for your family as hard as I fight for my own. For health care as a right, not a privilege. For every child to get a good education, no matter what block they grow up on. For good jobs for everyone who’s ready to work.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) January 16, 2019
She was also the first prominent Democrat to call on her Senate colleague Al Franken to quit after accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.
She defended her actions on Wednesday.
“I just couldn’t stay silent,” she said, referring to Mr Franken.
“My job was not to stay silent. I couldn’t defend it, and I had to do what was right.
“And if some wealthy individuals, that makes them angry, that’s on them.”