Former Obama Strategist: Gillibrand's Flip-Flop On Guns and Immigration Will Hurt Her 2020 Chances

Posted: Feb 14, 2018 12:49 PM

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) could be a presidential hopeful in 2020, but her interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes have some wondering if her explanations for her flip flopping on issues, like guns and immigration, could hurt her. Gillibrand was grilled (or at least they didn’t let her just skip on past this area) by the network over her reversals. She had an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, and she was more Trumpian on immigration.  She now says that she’s a bit embarrassed to have held those views. Her reason was that she didn’t really have a view that extended past the New York’s 20th congressional district. She also pretty much insinuated that she was representing country bumpkin constituents back then, but not anymore—being a hard core liberal Senator from deep blue New York. Yes, she knows she will be hot with being a political opportunist.

Yesterday, NBC’s Chuck Todd interviewed former Clinton and Obama strategist Joel Benenson, who said this, could be a problem for Gillibrand. He noted how she changed positions on guns and immigration long before the 2020 rumblings, but added that her explanation that she “didn’t look beyond my own backyard to think about issues more broadly” will hurt her. He juxtaposed how Barack Obama made his entrance into the national spotlight, and how he had a big agenda—a big vision for the country. Whether it was the right one is subject to debate, but Benenson noted how voters want that from their president and this weak sauce attempt to explain her policy shifts could make way for some heartburn. Then again, this all could be for nothing since she could decide not to run for president.

There’s also the fact that no one really knows her. She’s trying to remedy that by being a leading voice in the MeToo moment. Yet, if 60 Minutes caught onto how she could be viewed as an opportunist with her evolution on guns and immigration, it’s a sign that the apple does not far from the tree, as she says Hillary Clinton is her greatest role model.