Kirsten Gillibrand Takes First Steps Toward Presidential Run on 'Late Show'

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand - Publicity-H 2019
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

"As a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I’d fight for my own," the two-term New York senator said in her announcement.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Tuesday announced she was filing an exploratory bid to run for president in 2020 during an appearance on CBS' The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

"I'm forming an exploratory committee for president of the United States tonight," she told Colbert, after the host prompted her to discuss why she was on his show following an appearance in November.

When asked why she wants to be president, Gillibrand responded, "As a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I’d fight for my own, which is why I believe health care should be a right, 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 grew 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." She added, "I know that I have the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination to get that done."

After Colbert asked the senator to clarify what forming an exploratory campaign means, she said that it was an "important first step" toward running for president but affirmed, "I am going to run."

When asked what she would do on her first day in office, Gillibrand replied, "The first thing I would do is restore what's been lost, the integrity and the compassion of this country, I would bring people together to start getting things done," referring to politicians on both sides of the aisle. If she were president during the government shutdown -- now the longest in U.S. history -- she added later, "What I would do differently is I would bring people together and tell them why I care."

Colbert then asked what values Republicans and Democrats share that can bridge their ideological differences. "I think if you start by listening ... you hear what that person wants to accomplish, you find common ground, and you build [policy]," she said. Gillibrand cited her success on bipartisan bills including the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

"I have a bipartisan bill with nearly every member of the Senate," she added.

Not long after The Late Show shared a clip of Gillibrand's announcement, the senator tweeted, "Tonight I announced that I’m preparing to run for president, because I believe we’re all called to make a difference. I believe in right vs. wrong – that wrong wins when we do nothing. Now is our time to raise our voices and get off the sidelines. Join me:"

The two-term Democratic senator from New York began her political career in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she served one term from 2007 to 2009. Gillibrand began in the Senate in 2009 and was re-elected to another six-year term in March. Prior to her work as a public servant, she was a lawyer and worked for Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign in 2000.

During her time in office, Gillibrand became the first senator to call for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, has been an outspoken advocate for new policies addressing sexual assault in the military and sexual harassment in Congress (60 Minutes called her the "#MeToo Senator") and swung from advocating for gun rights to gun reform. In February 2018, she vowed to no longer take corporate PAC money for her political campaigns.

On Monday night's show, Colbert said that Gillibrand was a "last-minute booking." "'Why would she be coming on here so suddenly?’’ he joked. “She’s coming on to talk to our audience tomorrow night. I can’t imagine why she would be here.”

Gillibrand joins other Democrats who have entered the race against President Donald Trump in 2020 in recent weeks, including Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former federal housing secretary Julian Castro.