Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand D-NY is laying out aggressive stances on a slate of progressive issues as she introduces herself to Iowans on her first swing through the state after officially announcing her candidacy this past weekend.
The two-term senator and attorney, Gillibrand told dozens of people crowded into a bar in Davenport Tuesday night that climate change is "the greatest threat to humanity that exists."
To address the threats of warming temperatures and rising seas, she voiced her support for the Green New Deal, an agressive plan by congressional Democrats to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade.
“When John F. Kennedy said, ‘we’re putting a man on the moon in the next ten years not because it’s easy but because it’s hard,’ he didn’t know if we could get the man on the moon in ten years," she said. "We don’t know if we can get to net zero carbon emissions in ten years, but we should certainly try."
Gillibrand even called for going above and beyond the Green New Deal, which proposes considerable investments and committment from the federal government to expand renewable energy, help communities become climate-resilient and overhaul the nation's building stock, all while creating jobs and economic development.
"We, to deal with such a big problem, we need the kind of solutions that are as bold and as big as the problem that it is," she said. "I believe the Green New Deal is a very good start but it’s not enough.”
Gillibrand told the crowd she learned how to appeal to and win right-leaning voters after winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 2006, representing a district in upstate New York where Republicans outnumber Democrats. She was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 to fill the vacancy left by Hillary Clinton, and was reelected to a second term in 2018.
Gillibrand also said she’d be a moral leader, outlining her plans to implement Medicare for All, roll back Trump-era immigration and social policies. Gillibrand said she'd allow more refugees to resettle in the country, make a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants living in the country, and stand up to international adversaries.
"We need to ask more of our friends, of our allies," she said. "This president will not stand up to [Russian President] Putin. He will not stand up to the Saudis. He does not stand up to anyone that he should. And I promise you, I will."
Davenport resident Renee Simmons says she was struck by Gillibrand's tenacity and enthusiasm. She's the first candidate Simmons has come out to see. Simmons says she's still on the fence this cycle. After seeing Hillary Clinton lose the election in 2016, she says she's worried about whether the New York Democrat has what it takes to get the party back in the Oval Office.
"My question is, what makes her think, not being a pessimist or anything, but what makes her think that she can beat him, versus Hillary? Because Hillary had a lot of credentials behind her, very educated, very qualified," she said.
Simmons says she's discouraged by the division she sees in the country in the wake of the 2016 election. She wants to see Americans set aside their personal differences, and come together to vote President Donald Trump out of office.
"I don't think beating him is the problem because he didn't win the last time," she said, referencing Trump's loss of the popular vote by some 2.8 million votes. "I just feel as though we need to do something different. We need to move forward, we really do."