Kirsten Gillibrand, New York Senator, Joins Democratic Race for President

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, an outspoken advocate for women’s causes and electing more women to office, is herself entering the 2020 race for the White House, becoming the latest candidate to join what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary to take on President Trump.

In an appearance Tuesday on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said she was forming an exploratory committee to raise money and travel the country for her run. She is scheduled to start campaigning within days, with plans to spend the weekend in Iowa.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,’’ she said.

Ms. Gillibrand, 52, has emerged as one of the most forceful critics of the Trump administration in the last two years. She has voted against nearly every significant nominee Mr. Trump has put forward, and rallied opposition to his congressional agenda. In the last two months, as she publicly considered a campaign, she has spoken repeatedly about the need to restore the “moral compass” of the nation.

But Ms. Gillibrand, a former corporate lawyer, has been criticized by opponents as a politician without a firm ideological bearing of her own, having transformed from a pro-gun, conservative upstate congresswoman with deep ties to Wall Street financiers to a crusading liberal who rails against guns and refuses corporate political action committee money.

Ms. Gillibrand’s 2020 announcement was widely expected after weeks of presidential buildup, in which she secured office space for a headquarters in Troy, N.Y., and expanded her political staff.

“The first thing I would do is restore what’s been lost: the integrity and the compassion of this country,” Ms. Gillibrand told Mr. Colbert when he asked about her Day 1 priorities.

Ms. Gillibrand is not the first woman or even the first one in the Senate to announce her bid; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formed an exploratory committee two weeks ago.

Other senators expected to enter the race soon include Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, while Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former Representative Beto O’Rourke are weighing candidacies.

Ms. Gillibrand has registered little support in early presidential polls, but she is still widely seen as a formidable candidate. Fiercely competitive and a prolific fund-raiser — she had more than $10.5 million in the bank as of late 2018 — she has invested heavily in recent years to build up a small donor network online, as well.

Notably, Ms. Gillibrand pitched bipartisanship in her announcement. “I would bring people together to start getting things done,” she said. “If you want to get health care done, you have to bring Democrats and Republicans to the table on the shared values of this country.”

But nothing would be accomplished, she said, without taking on “the systems of power,” including “institutional racism” and corruption in Washington.

Ms. Gillibrand appeared nervous as the interview began, gripping Mr. Colbert’s hand just before making her announcement….

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