Gillibrand ramping up in N.H., aims criticism at Trump

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, mingles at Stark Brewing Co. on Friday in Manchester. AP

  • Potential Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, listens to a question during an event organized by the Young Democrats of New Hampshire at Stark Brewing Co., Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. Gillibrand is making her first trip to New Hampshire as a presidential prospect. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Elise Amendola—AP

For the Monitor
Published: 2/2/2019 7:43:47 PM

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand vowed to fight for a progressive agenda, touted her bipartisan chops, and took aim at President Donald Trump during her first trip to New Hampshire since launching a presidential exploratory committee.

And the Democrat from New York, in an interview with the Monitor, said she would quickly bring on campaign staff in the Granite State, which holds the first primary in the race for the White House, saying “we are making an offer this weekend.”

“Hopefully we’ll have a strong staff over the next few weeks and months to make sure that I get to every community in the state,” Gillibrand said. “I’m just going to do a lot of house parties and talk to people where they are about what they care about.”

The senator kicked off her trip by speaking to nearly 200 Democratic activists packed into Stark Brewing Company in Manchester at an event hosted by the New Hampshire Young Democrats, an increasingly influential group.

Gillibrand – who represented a conservative congressional district in upstate New York before succeeding Hillary Clinton in the Senate in 2009 – spotlighted that “I have shown through my 12 years of public service that I can reach across the aisle and work with literally anybody. Ted Cruz and I just finished writing a bill to end sexual harassment in Congress and that final bill ultimately passed unanimously. ”

She emphasized that she would continue to “find common ground” with Republicans if she made it to the White House.

But in an energetic speech, Gillibrand also slammed the president, accusing him of dividing and weakening the country.

“I’m so angry at what President Trump has done, putting the hate and the division into this country, it’s terrible. It’s not who we are as a nation,” she said. “And so every time he draws a line, whether it’s on racial lines, religious lines, socio-economic lines, he’s dividing us and he’s making us weaker, not stronger.”

She said the presidential campaign is a “fight for our democracy, it’s a fight for our country, it’s a fight for our values, it’s a fight for what we believe in.”

And she touted that “I have never backed down from a fight. And it doesn’t matter who I’m fighting against, it’s who I’m fighting for that matters.

Gillibrand highlighted a very progressive agenda, calling for stronger protections for LGBTQ rights, the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, increased investment in public schools, universal pre-kindergarten, affordable daycare and increased early childhood education, more affordable college and a push for economic equality.

Turning to the opioid crisis, which has devastated the state this decade, she said “if you ask the question about what’s really at the heart of the opioid crisis in this state or any other state, I promise you it’s the pharmaceutical companies who pour the drugs into communities.”

Asked about the overflow crowd, New Hampshire Young Democrats Executive Director Amelia Keane explained that “this is the first big event that we’re doing with a woman candidate,” which she said added to the excitement. “People want to see women step up and hear from them.”

After starting her Saturday campaigning in Nashua, Gillibrand spent the early afternoon in Portsmouth, where she popped into the Hazel Boutique.

After chatting with owner Kerry LaJoie about the challenges facing small business owners, Gillibrand asked her “what would you recommend for somebody running for president?”

After browsing the shop, the senator settled on a blue dress, which she said she got on sale.

Later, LaJoie admitted “I’m a little shocked. I had no idea this was going to happen. I’m just here on a Saturday.”

In the late afternoon, Gilliband held a meet-and-greet in Durham with the University of New Hampshire Democrats. She also packed her itinerary this weekend with multiple meetings with Democratic lawmakers and rainmakers. She closes out her visit Sunday with a stop in Littleton.

Gillibrand arrived in New Hampshire hours after Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey declared his candidacy for president. The constantly expanding 2020 Democratic primary field also includes fellow Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, as are former San Antonio mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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