Skip to main content

Kirsten Gillibrand calls it quits, exits 2020 presidential race

Written By | Aug 29, 2019
Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand, official US Senate photo, public domain.

WASHINGTON. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has faced the music and dropped out of the presidential race. She pledged to help the eventual Democratic nominee defeat President Donald Trump. Gillibrand’s decision comes after it was confirmed that she failed to meet the Democratic National Committee’s criteria for the September presidential debate. In her official statement, her camp noted her lack of access to the debate stage as a partial reason for her to decide to end her run.

Kirsten Gillibrand stood out as a candidate but failed to gain traction

Gillibrand posted a video on Twitter saying that it’s important to know when it’s not your time and where and how you can best serve your community and country. Gillibrand was the first candidate to champion for a pro-abortion rights litmus test for federal judicial nominations. One of her biggest platforms, abortions rights, led her to hold rallies in Georgia and Missouri, two states where Republican lawmakers passed multiple anti-abortion laws.

She became one of the first vocal critics of President Trump on the campaign trail. She launched her campaign in close proximity of one of Trump’s hotels in Manhattan. Gillibrand struggled to stand out among the crowded Democratic primary field, which included five other women. Along with other candidates, she struggled at single or near zero in national polling. Gillibrand was not able to survive. Gillibrand also struggled when it came to fundraising, falling behind her rivals. However, she did manage to become one of the top online fundraisers in the Democratic Party in 2017.

Gillibrand’s aides wanted her to abandon ship

Worse, leaks from former campaign aides and supporters indicate her own staffers were increasingly dissatisfied with the Gillibrand campaign’s lack of clear focus, according to Fox News.

“It’s time for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s sputtering presidential campaign to call it quits, a friend of hers and two former aides told The [New York] Post.

“‘It would be best if she decided that this was not her time,’ said one longtime Gillibrand fundraiser, who claimed the Democratic contender’s well-heeled supporters want her to remain in the US Senate.

“‘Most people that I talk to are very happy with her as their senator and don’t want her to give up her Senate seat and don’t see any realistic traction for her…’

“‘I don’t know that anyone even wants to see her on the debate stage. Everyone I have talked to finds her performative and obnoxious,’ said a former senior staffer in Gillibrand’s Senate office.”

Gillibrand was one of the first to target former VP Joe Biden

One of Gillibrand’s memorable moments came last month when she went up against former Vice President Joe Biden’s stance on paid family leave. However, her attack failed to leave a mark. Biden responded, by recalling a time she praised him for his work for equality. Gillibrand built a reputation as a creative candidate who made appearances at unusual locales. She tried her hand at bartending in Iowa, arm-wrestled students, and even appeared at a drag show in Des Moines. She also drew some criticism from fellow Democrats after agreeing to appear on Fox News.

However, Gillibrand’s campaign, like her political career, has amounted to a long series of political flip-flops and campaign missteps. She was notorious for championing the ouster of Minnesota Senator and fellow Democrat Al Franken for alleged #MeToo offenses. Many Democrats privately decry her actions for weakening Democrat prospects to retake the Senate.

Gillibrand wasn’t always a leftist crusader

Earlier, as a “Blue Dog” Democrat House representative from New York state, she had a strong conservative voting record, That inconvenient fact was highlighted by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow earlier this spring as duly noted by the New York Times.

“An early appearance on Rachel Maddow’s coveted prime time show was dominated by Ms. Maddow’s biting introduction of Ms. Gillibrand as a candidate who once held conservative positions on gun rights and border control.”

Her previous record proved a big negative for a political party that long ago throw its lot in with its increasingly hard-leftist fringe.

As for Gillibrand’s campaign gaffes, they were as much a matter of poor timing and bad luck as a lack of foresight, notes the Times.

“A late March rally Ms. Gillibrand planned outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York was blotted out by the media frenzy accompanying the submission of the Mueller report to the Justice Department… And by random drawing, Ms. Gillibrand appeared twice on the debate stage beside Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, whose rivalry consumed both events.”

The final decision

CNN reports that Gillibrand made her decision after speaking with her family. All realized she could not make the stage at next month’s debate. Gillibrand believed that reaching the stage for the third debate was critical. So she spent millions on TV and digital advertising, hoping to boost her support. But those efforts fell short when she failed to break polling under 1% nationally. Gillibrand’s decision to end her campaign shows that the debates matter. And when you fail to make the grade among more than a dozen candidates, you face a serious disadvantage in public perception.

—Headline image: Senator and former Democrat Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand.
Official US Senate photo in the public domain.


Larry Lease

Lawrence Lease is a conservative commentator taking aim at all aspects of governmental domestic and foreign policy. Lease previously served as a volunteer with the human-rights organization International Justice Mission in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Follow Lease on Twitter, Facebook, and soon Blog Talk Radio.