On Tuesday evening, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told Stephen Colbert exactly why she decided to throw her hat in the ring for 2020. Immediately after announcing that she's launching an exploratory committee for a presidential bid, the New York senator explained on the Late Show that she believes she has the “the compassion, the courage and the fearless determination” necessary for the job.
Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate in 2009, filling the seat that Hillary Clinton left open when she took the secretary of state position. The politician, who has a husband and two sons, per The Washington Post, told Colbert that family was a central motivator for her, as was public education and health care.
I’m going to run for president of the United States because, as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own. Which is why I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege. It’s why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn’t matter what block you grow up on. And I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class.
Describing the first thing she would do as president of the United States, she took a direct jab at the current administration. To Colbert, she said, “The first thing I would do is restore what’s been lost: the integrity and the compassion in this country." Gillibrand added, "I would bring people together to start getting things done.”
It's worth noting that an exploratory committee is essentially the same as a presidential run — at least in the eyes of the law, according to Vox. This largely has to do with the fact that they require the same paperwork.
According to The Washington Post, Gillibrand has one notable skill that might put her at an advantage over Democratic opponents in a notably crowded primary field: her fundraising savvy. Per the publication, Gillibrand has raised over $56 million over her political career, raising $20 million in the last five years alone.
There's another notable aspect to her run: she explicitly said last year that she would not run for president in 2020. Per The Washington Post, Gillibrand argued during her reelection campaign that she planned to serve her six-year term, if reelected, and not contest Trump in 2020.
Then, two days after she was reelected to the Senate, Gillibrand said to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show in November that she had changed her mind and was now reconsidering a run. To Colbert, she said,
I believe it is a moral question for me. I’ve seen the hatred and the 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.
On Tuesday evening following her 2020 announcement, Gillibrand doubled down with her message on social media, reinforcing her beliefs in a passionate Instagram post that read in part, "This a moment in history when none of us can stay silent; we have to rise up, reclaim our values and act with compassion."
Gillibrand concluded her Instagram post with a call to action. She wrote, "At such a time as this, we all have to ask ourselves: What will we do? I’ll fight, and I’ll fight with everything I have. It would mean so much if you joined me."