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New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand launches exploratory committee as crowd grows in Democratic field 

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Tuesday that she’s forming an exploratory committee for president of the United States.

The announcement, rumored for weeks, came during her an interview that will air on CBS’ ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ Tuesday night. The show released a clip of her decision.

Gillibrand clasped host Stephen Colbert’s hands in excitement and took a deep breath before she declared her intentions.

‘I’m filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States. Tonight,’ she told him as the crowd roared.

She has a campaign website ready that contains her bio and a place to donate.

Gillibrand is a longtime advocate for women and has been a leader in the #metoo movement against sexual assault. She was one of the first Democratic Senators to call for colleague Al Franken to resign and also said President Bill Clinton should have resigned after his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made her announcement on Stephen Colbert’s show

Gillibrand has advocated for women's rights and been a leader in the #metoo movement

Gillibrand has advocated for women’s rights and been a leader in the #metoo movement

‘I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I fight for my own, which is why I believe healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. It’s why I believe we should we have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn’t matter what block you grow up on. And I believe anybody that works hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class,’ she said.

She added: ‘But you are never going to accomplish any of these things if you don’t take on the systems of power which make all of that impossible, which is taking on institutional racism, it’s taking on the corruption and greed in Washington, it’s taking on the special interests which write legislation in the dead night and I know that I have compassion, the courage and the fearless determination to get that done.’

She will head to Iowa, an early caucus state in the 2020 nomination process, this weekend.  

On Friday, the senator will be in Sioux City and then she’ll head to Ames, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids throughout the weekend. 

Colbert used the interview to as a series of serious and joking questions, according to CBS News, including asking her what swear word she would miss the most if she tried not to swear on the campaign trail.

“Rhymes with ‘duck,'” Gillibrand replied.

The late night host also gave her campaign gifts: a plane ticket to Michigan and granite from New Hampshire. He also gave her a pin saying, “I announced on the ‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert.'” 

Gillibrand joins a crowded Democratic primary field that includes several women – some of whom have announced and some who are weighing their intentions.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Gillibrand’s Senate colleague, launched an exploratory committee in December, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro also tossed his hat in. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she will formally announce soon.

Fellow Sens. Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar are also considering bids.

As are Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders. Former Vice President Joe Biden could still announce a bid, as may former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

Gillibrand was appointed to the Senate in 2009 to succeed Hillary Clinton, who became secretary of state. She easily won re-election in November and has $10.6 million in her campaign fund, which can be used to jump-start a presidential bid.

Her move comes as, after months of speculation and secrecy, the 2020 presidential primary season is about to explode.

With several Democrats already in the race, a half dozen more are locking down final travel, staffing and strategy to launch White House bids in the coming weeks. 

 Looks like a runner: Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, could announce as early as this week that she is mounting a White House run

 Looks like a runner: Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, could announce as early as this week that she is mounting a White House run

Joining up: Cory Booker, the junior New Jersey senator, and Kamala Harris, the junior California senator, are both expected to announce White House runs soon

Joining up: Cory Booker, the junior New Jersey senator, and Kamala Harris, the junior California senator, are both expected to announce White House runs soon

Joining up: Cory Booker, the junior New Jersey senator, and Kamala Harris, the junior California senator, are both expected to announce White House runs soon

Tulsi Gabbard

Elizabeth Warren

Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (left) said she will formally announce soon while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (right) announced her bid last month

While plans may change, the announcements are expected to come in waves, the first featuring a group of ambitious Senate Democrats including Gillibrand, Harris and Booker, who face pressure to join the race after Warren’s entrance two weeks ago.

The second wave will likely feature political heavyweights like Biden, Sanders, Bloomberg, and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, whose advisers believe they have sufficient financial backing and name recognition to join the crowded field on their terms later in the first quarter should they decide to run.

‘It is really starting to heat up,’ said Deidre DeJear, who lost her bid for Iowa secretary of state last fall, but remains an influential figure in the state’s first-in-the-nation Democratic caucuses. She was among a group of Iowa Democratic women who sat down with Warren last week in suburban Des Moines.

‘I feel like Warren put people in a place as if to say ‘come on, step up,” DeJear said in a subsequent interview. ‘If you’re in it, you’re in it. No reason to wait now.’

Interviews with senior aides for several top Democratic prospects, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, indicate the waiting game is almost over.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who left office last week, added foreign policy adviser Jeremy Rosner, finance director Dan Sorenson and a senior communications adviser Marie Logsden to his political action committee in recent days, according to an aide. Hickenlooper is traveling to Los Angeles this week to meet with donors and has scheduled visits to early voting states later in the month.

The 66-year-old term-limited governor and former businessman, who remains largely unknown to many primary voters, does not plan to launch his campaign before March.

Sanders, the lone 2020 prospect who ran in 2016, has interviewed close to 20 people to fill senior positions such as campaign manager and directors of policy, communications and his field program. 

A senior aide said the hiring process has been particularly focused on adding diversity – in both gender and race – that didn’t exist in his last presidential campaign.

The aide said allegations of sexual harassment between Sanders’ former campaign staff had no impact on the timeline of an announcement, which is not expected before the end of the month. 

Despite his challenges, Sanders is sitting on a war chest of roughly $15 million and an active nationwide network. In a show of early force, liberal activists hosted hundreds of house parties across the nation on Saturday to cheer on a second Sanders run.

Meanwhile, O’Rourke, 46, is taking steps toward a run, but an aide said he’s not expected to announce until next month at the earliest. 

However, he’s traveling outside Texas to introduce himself to voters in the coming weeks. Oprah is scheduled to interview him in New York City next month.

The first states on the primary calendar are not on O’Rourke’s immediate itinerary, but that’s not stopping supporters in Iowa and South Carolina from launching draft efforts. 

A leader of South Carolina’s ‘Draft Beto’ movement, former Democratic National Committee member Boyd Brown, said he’s having conversations with Democratic donors, local officials and potential staffers, to help stave off commitments to other candidates as the field starts to take shape.

Is he in? Beto O'Rourke, who ran Ted Cruz into the margin of error in Texas but was still defeated, is at the center of widespread speculation 

Is he in? Beto O’Rourke, who ran Ted Cruz into the margin of error in Texas but was still defeated, is at the center of widespread speculation 

What about Bernie: The socialist who took on Hillary Clinton has been hit by revelations of sexual harassment claims inside his 2016 campaign but could still run

What about Bernie: The socialist who took on Hillary Clinton has been hit by revelations of sexual harassment claims inside his 2016 campaign but could still run

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is another women considering a 2020 run

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is another women considering a 2020 run

‘We might be taking a shot in the dark, but we’re building an apparatus that we can hand off to an actual campaign should he run,’ Brown said in an interview. ‘We’re treating this like a presidential campaign until told otherwise.’

A more seasoned political star, Biden remains silent about his plans. The 76-year-old Democrat has done little to build teams on the ground in key states, instead sticking to the schedule of huddling with aides while he moves closer to a decision.

While it may seem early, the sheer size of the likely field makes it difficult for some candidates to wait much longer. 

Upward of two dozen high-profile Democrats could run for a chance to deny President Donald Trump a second term.

The first Democratic primary debate will take place in June, while the first primary contest is likely a year away. With a field this big, there’s only so many donors and top staffers to go around.

‘At this point the cycle, it’s a race for money and talent, and unless your name is Joe Biden or Beto O’Rourke, you’ve gotta get in soon if you want attract either one of those things,’ said former Obama strategist Stephanie Cutter, who has been offering advice to some contenders.

Gillibrand, 52, joins some of her Senate colleagues on a more aggressive timeline. She’s already identified a likely location for a campaign headquarters, added staff and planned trips to key states.

The Democratic senator is eying a headquarters in Troy, New York, a small upstate city on the Hudson River.  

Booker is expected to run his campaign from Newark, where he lives and served as mayor. 

The 49-year-old Democrat has identified a likely campaign manager, Addisu Demissee. 

The Democratic operative previously managed Booker’s special election campaign in 2013 and subsequently worked for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and most recently led California Gov. Gavin Newsome’s successful gubernatorial bid.

Like Gillibrand and Booker, Harris is expected to join the race in the coming weeks.

The first-term senator and former California attorney general has broadened her national profile in recent days by launching a tour to promote her book, ‘The Truths We Hold.’ 

Like her would-be competitors, the 54-year-old Democrat has not publicly committed to running, but she has said repeatedly that the country needs a leader who ‘provides a vision of the future of the country in which everyone can see themselves.’

A handful of lesser-known candidates have already entered the race.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, 37, announced her intention to run in a CNN interview that aired on Saturday.

That same day, Castro formally kicked off his campaign Saturday in his San Antonio hometown.

Not to be forgotten, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are openly considering joining the 2020 contest, although neither is as far along in preparations as their potential rivals.

Meanwhile, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to make his first New Hampshire appearance next week. 

He talked up his liberal record and willingness to take on Trump during a weekend appearance in Nevada.

‘He cannot stop us,’ Inslee said of the president. ‘He has not stopped me, either.’



Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 71

Entered race:  Set up exploratory committee December 31, 2018

Career: Law lecturer and academic who became an expert on bankruptcy law and tenured Harvard professor. Ran for Senate and won in 2012, defeating sitting Republican Scott Brown, held it in 2018 60% to 36%. Was short-listed to be Hillary’s running mate and campaigned hard for her in 2016

Family: Twice-married mother of two and grandmother of three. First husband and father of her children was her high-school sweetheart. Second husband Bruce Mann is Harvard law professor. Daughter Amelia Tyagi and son Alex Warren have both been involved in her campaigns. Has controversially claimed Native American roots; DNA test suggested she is as little as 1,064th Native American

Religion: Raised Methodist, now described as Christian with no fixed church

Views on key issues: Voted Republican until 1995 but has tacked left since. Pro: higher taxes on rich; banking regulation; Dream Act path to citizenship for ‘dreamers’; abortion and gay rights; campaign finance restrictions; and expansion of public provision of healthcare – although still to spell out exactly how that would happen. Against: U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Syria; liberalization of gambling

Slogan: To be announced 


Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 46

Entered race: January 12, 2018, at rally in his native San Antonio, TX. Had formed exploratory committee two months previously

Career: Stanford and Harvard graduate who was a San Antonio councilman at 26 and became mayor in 2009. Was Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary from 2014 to 2016

Family: Married with nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son. His identical twin Joaquin, who is a minute younger, is Democratic congressman. Would be first Hispanic-American nominee – announced his run in English and Spanish – and first-ever U.S. president with a twin

Religion:  Catholic

Views on key issues: Wants medicare for all, action on affordable housing, will not take money from political action committees (PACs) tied to corporations or unions. Other views still to be announced

Slogan: One Nation. One Destiny


Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 57

Entered race: Filed papers July 28, 2017

Career: Three-time Maryland congressman, first winning election in 2012. Previously set up publicly-traded companies lending capital to healthcare and mid-size businesses and was New York Stock Exchange CEO

Family: Married father of four; wife April works for children’s issues nonprofit 

Religion: Catholic 

Views on key issues: Social liberal in favor of legalized pot and gun control but not single-payer healthcare; fiscally conservative

Slogan: Focus on the Future


Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 46

Entered race: Filed papers November 6, 2018

Career: Started a dotcom flop then become healthcare and education tech executive who set up nonprofit Venture for America

Family: Married father of two; would be first Asian-American nominee

Religion: Reformed Church

Views on key issues: Warns of rise of robots and artificial intelligence, wants $1,000 a month universal basic income and social media regulated 

Slogan: Humanity First


Age on Inauguration Day 2021: 50

Entered race: Filed papers November 12, 2018

Career: Tattooed Army paratrooper officer with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan awarded disability by VA; then high school teacher and West Virginia state senator. Lost 2018 run for Congress

Family: Married father of two; wife is paid caregiver for his combat-related disabilities; grandfather was illegal immigrant from Mexico

Religion: Not declared

Views on key issues: Populist union booster who backed teachers’ strike in West Virginia; wants lobbyists banned; won’t take corporate political action committee donations but will take from unions; voted for Trump in 2016 but regrets it

Slogan: To be announced 



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