New York Democrat: I Was More Like Trump On Immigration, But I Represented Rednecks Back Then

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 5:30 PM

Last week, CNBC’s Ron Insana commented on the Democratic National Committee’s fundraising issues. It’s dismal, the worst in years. So, what happened? Well, for starters, Obama is out of office and Democrats are in their worst shape in years, curtailed only to their urban strongholds and the coasts. One-third of their House caucus comes from three states, New York, Massachusetts, and California. That’s not the makings of a national party. Obama had a good message and clear agenda. The current Democratic Party does not, except for hating all things Trump. With zero sales pitch, don’t expect a flood of donations. Insana was concise: no message and no messenger. That was evident during Donald Trump’s first State of the Union, where there was not one, but five Democratic responses. 

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is sharking her way up the Democratic bench, and I use that term lightly because they really don’t have one for 2020. She’s become the point of the lance in the Me Too movement, suggesting congressional investigations into President Trump’s sexual misconduct allegation, while doing a politically convenient 180-degree turn on the Clintons, with whom she has been a strong ally and regards Hillary as her greatest role model concerning what she does in public life. She now thinks that Bill Clinton should have resigned over his allegations of sexual misconduct, which includes a credible rape allegation. Now, she’s trying to position herself as a potential 2020 candidate, though not without stepping on a few rakes. It’s one thing to change a position. It’s another thing to pretty much say I changed my position because I used to represent a bunch of country bumpkins; Gillibrand was a congresswoman representing the 20th district in New York, which is around the Albany area. Gillibrand was appointed to fill the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s Senate term, who tapped to be Obama’s secretary of state in 2009.

In a CBS 60 Minutes interview over the weekend, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi brought up Gillibrand’s past positions, notably her tough stances on immigration and her solid “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. To CBS’s credit, they grilled her a bit, which the New York Democrat seemed to insinuate that her former views were racist…because she more or less represented rednecks in the House, or something. But hey, since becoming a statewide officeholder and knowing you had to be hard-core lefty, she changed her views. The Free Beacon clipped part of the interview as well (via CBS News) [emphasis mine]:

As a congresswoman, Gillibrand used that family tradition of hunting to appeal to conservative voters in upstate New York, she boasted an "A" rating from the NRA. Though Gillibrand still supports the second amendment, her stance has changed.

Sharyn Alfonsi: A few years ago, you said, "It has nothing to do with hunting. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment." So why the 180?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: After I got appointed, I went down to Brooklyn to meet with families who had suffered from gun violence in their communities. And you immediately experience the feeling that I couldn't have been more wrong. – you know I only had the lens of upstate New York.

Sharyn Alfonsi: But you had-- lived in New York City--

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: I know.

Sharyn Alfonsi: --for a decade.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: And that's why I was embarrassed.

Sharyn Alfonsi: You traveled abroad.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: I was wrong. What it's about is the power of the NRA and the greed of that industry. Let's be clear. It is not about hunters' rights, it's about money.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Your critics will say it's political opportunism.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: As is their right. They can say what they like.

But it wasn't just her position on gun control that switched—as a congresswoman, her stance on immigration was closer to Donald Trump's than today's Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Sharyn Alfonsi: So can you understand President Trump's position on immigration, since you were there?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: No. I think his positions are racist.

Sharyn Alfonsi: You were against amnesty, against sanctuary cities. You supported accelerated deportations. You become senator…Why the flip?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:  I came from a district that was 98% white. We have immigrants, but not a lot of immigrants. And I hadn't really spent the time to hear those kind of stories about what's it like to worry that your dad could be taken away at any moment, what it's like--

Sharyn Alfonsi: But you're reading the paper--

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: Yeah. And I just didn't take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn't right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I'm embarrassed about and I'm ashamed of.

Sharyn Alfonsi: So it is not very often that you hear a politician say, "I was wrong. I'm ashamed. I didn't know."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: I just think as I've gotten older I've learned more about life and sometimes you're wrong. And you've gotta fix it. And if you're wrong, just admit it and move on. 

Yeah, or you have your eyes set on the White House, your party has moved far left on the issues of guns and immigration, and you need to make yourself look palatable to the base, though no one really knows who you are past the Catskill Mountains. Seriously, the switch is I was a redneck congresswoman and now I’m not, so I’ve learned. So, people in upstate New York aren’t as evolved or something? This is another issue with a party as hemmed in as the Democrats—they have no one who really can connect with rural voters. If they want border security, they’re called racists. They believe in Second Amendment rights, they’re extremists. They receive a bonus from their employer, and it’s only crumbs. If this is the crème of the crop for the Democratic Party, coupled with a booming economy (the market is correcting itself and the Dow was up over 400 points), then I’m not as worried about Trump’s 2020 chances. Yes, we have two millennia until then concerning political time, but it’s fairly easy to suggest that Gillibrand’s transformation from middle-of-the-road congresswoman to bleeding heart liberal was more out of ambition and political expediency. Nothing wrong with that, but just be honest—just like how you threw rural voters under the bus to explain why you became more liberal without sounding like a total opportunist, which this moves reeks of, by the way--a point she admits will be lobbed against her.