This is not the sign of a healthy campaign for President of the United States.
Seeking to reboot her presidential campaign, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday cast herself in a new video as “a leader who makes big, bold, brave choices” and announced she would hold a rally outside one of President Trump’s hotels later this month.
“We launched ourselves into space and landed on the moon,” the New York Democrat said in the video. “If we can do that, we can definitely achieve universal health care. We can provide paid family leave for all, end gun violence, pass a Green New Deal, get money out of politics and take back our democracy.”
Her speech outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City will be held on March 24.
Gillibrand, 52, announced her intention to run for president on Jan. 15 and headed quickly to Iowa and New Hampshire. She had hoped to draw from the increasing political activism of Democratic women but drew smaller early crowds than some better-known contenders, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The latest edition of the Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa poll put Gillibrand’s support at 0 percent.
“Zero percent support,” it says. I am famously bad at math, but a donut on your side of the campaign scoreboard is not good. After three months of campaigning, it’s a very loud sign that your plan isn’t working.
For those of you keeping score at home, she will be relaunching her campaign as some still wait the entry of potentially big name candidates and the final shaping of the Democratic field.
On paper, her candidacy seemed to have some merits and potential. Winning her first major office in upstate New York in 2006, she has steadily worked her way up to her current position in the Senate by winning elections comfortably. Policy-wise, she has drifted further left as her national profile rose, but is still — considering the field — is mostly moderate by current standards.
Sen. Gillibrand’s main problem so far, besides utter lack of attention, is there doesn’t seem to be an issue or cause that she can claim originality of position on, let alone ownership. She is a sitting US Senator, but at last count there were 5 currently running. She is a woman, but she is one of six running. She did win in a “red” district for congress as a Democrat, but since becoming a Senator — and especially as a presidential candidate — seems to have moved left into the no-mans land of nothing particularly exciting, policy-wise. Her laundry list of goals in that statement could be cut and pasted on any of a dozen candidate’s press releases.
She gained notice, and some backlash, last year by being one of the prominent voices to speak out against then-Senator Al Franken’s sexual harassement allegations, only to have her own problems when it was reported there was sexual harassment among her own staff. The former lead to several high-profile donors declare they would never support Gillibrand, the latter simmered until last week when the Gillibrand campaign “opened a new investigation and dismissed” the staffer involved.
“As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability,” Gillibrand said in a statement at the time. “That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year.”
The story did not alter Gillibrand’s focus on gender equity and stopping sexual harassment. In her Sunday video, she said she “took on the Pentagon to end to sexual assault in the military,” recounting one of the causes that brought her national attention.
Which is a fine and worthy cause, except it comes after a week when her fellow Senator Martha McSally, a retired Air Force officer who made her name suing the DOD over equal treatment for women, kicked off a hearing on sexual assault by revealing it had happened to her too. No doubt every voice is welcomed in fighting such wickedness in the ranks, but once again the senator from New York seems to be the lesser noticed of several voices.
Less serious, but not helpful for a campaign desperate for some good news, was the linking of one of her donors to the college admittance scandal that dominated headlines this week.
But maybe the relaunch will turn it all around. Doing a speech in proximity to a Trump property in New York City is certainly a good strategy for refocusing attention on yourself. Or rather, on paper it seems like a good idea.
Then again, plenty has looked good on paper for Gillibrand 2020, until it actually came time to do it in real life. Unless she shows otherwise, and quickly, that 0% polling will be the beginning and end of her presidential aspirations. Elections are full of conjecture (the campaigning) that ends in hard statistical facts (the voting). Much like a sporting event, there is lots of noise and yelling and action, but the numbers up on the scoreboard will tell the truth of what occurred.
Both in real life, and on paper.
Originally published at ordinary-times.com on March 17, 2019.