CEDAR RAPIDS — Kirsten Gillibrand is not short on confidence — or optimism.
“I get things done,” the New York senator told Democrats on Sunday afternoon in Cedar Rapids. Her success in winning elections, even in Republican areas, and passing legislation were part of her argument to potential caucusgoers about why she should be the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
She wins elections and legislative victories by listening to people and bringing people together, Gillibrand told about 50 people at the Linn County Phoenix Club, which raises money for Iowa Democratic candidates.
“I’ve actually won red and purple areas of my state,” she said.
When she ran for U.S. House, she beat a Republican incumbent by 6 percentage points and two years later won by a two-to-one margin in a district she described as having “more cows than Democrats.”
“Even in the 2018 election, I won back 18 Trump counties without spending money on television, just by doing town halls and going to all 62 counties in New York,” Gillibrand said.
In her Senate races, Gillibrand has won higher vote totals than Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and any New York candidate for U.S. Senate or governor.
“I bring people together in the red places, the blue places and the purple places,” she said.
But it’s not just about winning elections for Gillibrand. In the last congressional session, with Republicans controlling the House, Senate and White House, she was able get 18 bills passed — “common-sense bills, the kind of bills that would help places like Iowa.”
That included funding for rural broadband and made-in-America manufacturing and small businesses.
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Those successes aren’t reflected in her standing in polls of the Democratic field — yet, Gillibrand said. Depending on the poll, Gillibrand is in the 1 to 2 percent range.
“Soon,” she replied to a question about when she will begin rising in the polls. Recent presidential nominees haven’t always been ahead in the polls this early in their races, she noted.
“Some of them were very far behind.”
So eight months before Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, Gillibrand likes where she is.
“I’m top 10 out of 22, 23 candidates, so we’re not in a bad place,” she told reporters. “I just need to keep letting voters get to know me, so they can hear why I’m running, what I’ve done, what my vision for the country is and the experience I have to get stuff done.”
She’s confident that Iowa caucusgoers “will see though the buzz of any given candidate to the substance of who is the best candidate and who can bring the country back together.”
Earlier Sunday, Gillibrand delivered remarks at Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo.
She plans to be back on the campaign trail in Iowa next weekend. Then on June 9, she will return to Cedar Rapids, where she will be one of 17 candidates to speak at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration.
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