Gillibrand Kicks Off Campaign on UWS in Front of ‘A Shrine to Greed’

By Michael McDowell

A sunny day and sizable crowd greeted Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on the Upper West Side on Sunday, as she kicked off her campaign for president with a rally outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower on Central Park West.

“President Trump is tearing apart the moral fabric of this country…Our president is a coward,” Gillibrand said, in a fiery and rousing speech.

“Look up at that tower: a shrine to greed, division, and vanity,” she continued, with a glance toward the dark structure. “Now, look around you,” she urged the audience. “The greater strength by far, is ours.”

Gillibrand also addressed the hot news of the moment.

“The Mueller Report must be made public. All of it. Nobody in this country, not even the president, is above the law or immune from accountability,” she said, to loud applause.

However, Gillibrand devoted the majority of her speech to bravery—“Brave Wins” is the current campaign slogan—and the policies she would seek to enact were she elected president. These included Democratic positions old and new, from affordable health care for all, to universal pre-K and solving the student loan debt crisis, to the Green New Deal. It’s not clear if these positions — which some others in the race have also discussed — will help Gillibrand improve her standing among Democrats. Early polls show her to be way back in the pack, though it’s obviously still very early.

“We must have Medicare for all. We have a plan to get from our current system to single payer, and I know, because I helped write it,” she said.

Education was another theme of Gillibrand’s speech.

“It’s time to guarantee universal pre-K, affordable daycare, and high quality public education for every kid,” she said.

On student loans, Gillibrand is equally ambitious.

“The federal government should not be making money off the backs of our students. In my administration, we would refinance all federal student debt to the lowest available rate. And here’s a big idea: let’s improve and expand the GI Bill, to make college free for anyone who agrees to do national public service. That way, our young people can pursue their dreams, debt-free, while helping others.”

Gillibrand invoked JFK in her discussion of the Green New Deal.

“Let’s make this our generation’s moonshot. Addressing a global challenge of this urgency will take massive effort and transformational vision, which is exactly why we should do it. John F. Kennedy said he wanted to put a man on the moon in the next ten years not because it [would be] easy, but because [it would be] hard. I believe we should look at global climate change the exact same way: we should aspire to net zero carbon emissions in the next ten years not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. It is a challenge that we are willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we will win.”

And Gillibrand repeatedly characterized the upcoming election as a pivotal—even existential—moment.

“Will we defend this democracy? Will we speak for what we believe in? Will we reject the hate and fear and greed and corruption? Will we fight with every fiber of our being because everything we care about is at stake? Will we be brave?…I know that years from now we will look back on this moment in history and we will be able to say that we did something about it…when people come together to drive out the darkness, hope rises, fear loses, and brave wins!”

Trump has called Gillibrand a “lightweight,” among other insults.

What did those in the audience have to say? Why Gillibrand in 2020?

“She’s smart, she knows how to get deals done—to get legislation enacted—she picks the issues that are not the easy ones, they’re the hard ones. Family medical leave? Not popular, but she’s now made it part of the national agenda,” one woman told the Rag.

“I wanted somebody with the balls to take on Trump in front of his own hotel,” another woman said.

“Out of all the candidates, I think she’s the best choice to beat Trump because she has the ability to work bipartisan. She also flipped a red district at the beginning of her career in New York, and I think she really understands how to speak to the people in the key states that we lost back in 2016, like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania,” said a man.

Not all in attendance were supporters, and Trump-supporting protestors were audible at times during Gillibrand’s speech.

“I especially oppose Kirsten Gillibrand because she voted [against] the anti-BDS legislation that came to the Senate in January. That shows she’s in favor of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions of Israel, that makes her an anti-Semite,” one of the protestors told the Rag.

Other protestors declined to be interviewed.

The Rag spoke with a woman named Ruth and her daughter Sarah. Sarah had interned for Sen. Gillibrand.

“[Gilibrand] is the only one who has really stood up to support sexual harassment law reformation…she also is the only one to shine any attention on military sexual assault. These are very important topics…I’m not convinced I’m going to vote for her for president, but in terms of hearing out the initial wave of candidates, she’s very capable, she works very hard, she knows a ton. And she is brave,” Ruth said.

Following her speech, Gillibrand was joined by her family on stage, to the tune of Lizzo’s “Good as Hell.” Gillibrand then shook hands, held infants, and posed for selfies before departing in a black car.

As the crowd dispersed, a few supporters lingered.

“It’s going to be an interesting campaign,” a man said, nodding his head. “Hard to say which way things will go.”

Photos by Michael McDowell.

NEWS | 39 comments | permalink
    1. Bob Lamm says:

      How ironic that a woman supporting Gillibrand wants someone “with the balls” to take on Trump. I’d say we need to get rid of most politicians who genuinely have balls (certainly including Trump) and replace them with women who have courage, boldness, and integrity. Time to retire the same old sexist language.

    2. John says:

      She won’t make it through the primaries. She has no record to stand on. Bloomberg is the only NY political figure that would even stand a chance of beating Trump.

    3. ZoomZ says:

      In a word……….

      L O S E R

    4. Josh says:

      and later in the day, Jerry Nadler gives the press conference we’ve been waiting for, right there on 73rd St. typical sunday in the neighborhood 😛

      • UWSHebrew says:

        who is “we” kemosabe?

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          Self-proclaimed “UWSHebrew” siad:

          “who is “we” kemosabe?”

          I think Josh means the 85-90% of UWSiders who vote for Nadler and care about what he thinks.

          Sure, there is a 10% of angry Trump supporters… i don’t think he was referring to them.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            oh, thanks for explaining the political demographics of the UWS to me Bruce, now I understand, you are incredibly enlightening.

    5. AC57 says:

      I’m gonna voice the unpopular opinion: partisan politics is killing this country. You don’t respond to the flaming zucchini by becoming his polar opposite (morally, yes, politically, hell no.) if the Democrats or anyone else wants to win, they need to stick their hand out to the millions that have been alienated by Trump, and those Republicans who have unilaterally fallen behind him. Even some supporters, you need to reach out to. Unfortunately, it seems like Democrats are doing the the same thing that the Republicans did, moving further and further to the left, alienating millions more, myself amongst them, who could possibly be voting for the lesser of two evils, which I genuinely think will crank out a Trump reelection, especially after the Mueller report. I will say this: anyone but Trump. I will begrudgingly vote for Sanders, Warren, or Harris, and quite frankly, Gillibrand too, but the fact that my reasoning and the reasoning for many others is ”just not Trump” should be a huge red flag for Democrats.

      But again, that’s just me, your typical black New Yorker

      • Jen says:

        Well said, totally agree

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        @AC57: i wonder which of the “too far left” policies will “alienate” millions of voters?

        Medicare for All? It’s a very popular idea, and would actually help business.

        Universal Pre-K? It’s working in NYC.

        The Green New Deal? Isn’t it about time? do you really think we can wait any longer?

        The difference between the Republican Party moving right and the Democratic Party moving left is that the Republicans put forward retrograde proposals with economic plans oriented towards the rich. With the New Democrats, it’s about programs for the working people.

        • AC57 says:

          I would take a gamble and assume that approximately 100 million people disagree with you, more vehemently than I do. Climate change is real, and we need to take action, but I do not think the green new deal is realistic. Would I want to see it’s implementation? Frankly, yes, with some modifications, but, in my eyes, it’s a pipe dream, that no amount of extra taxation will solve. That goes for Medicare for all as well (although I am not as well versed in the Medicare system.)

          Universal pre-k is a great idea… stifled by districting and lack of school choice. The city schools are an absolute travesty, much like most of the city run institutions. You can implemented universal pre-K all you want, and I like the concept. But until school choice gets implemented, and districting ends, it’s gonna do nothing, because in the end, the segregated school system and forcing kids to go to local schools is gonna do more harm than any schooling policy can think of. Let those truly talented kids and their families pick their schools, forcing schools and teachers to compete for those students, and have the money follow the kids, and then schooling will get better.

          If these policies are so altruistic, and work for everyone, why are so many people opposed to it? So many of the people who you claim these policies benefit?

          First, we need to heal the wounds Trump has created. Then, we need to cut federal spending exponentially (we don’t need $750B in military spending). Reallocate the spending to infrastructure and improving education – implementing school choice as well, giving the working class the same opportunities as the upper class. We need to effectively transfer our energy consumption to green; and explore all possibilities like nuclear and fusion, instead of just focusing on solar and wind – there are many options out there. Research is needed as well, just as much. Cold fusion, hydroelectricity, artificial wind turbines along highways, using gusts from moving vehicles, biological sources of electricity. Let’s expand our reach. We also have to fund climate science and meteorology: those are going to become evermore crucial in the coming years. This cannot be accomplished in one term or even 5. Change needs to happen, we can all agree, but it’s gonna be a slow process, we can’t skips steps. The Green New Deal seems to be doing that in my eyes. Good start, but maybe jumping too far, costing too much.

          Also, I’m not really too fond of taking ideas from someone who led the charge in depriving NYC of $24B in potential revenue, a move that 2/3 of New Yorkers across the state detest. There’s that.

          Bruce, I am more than open to discussing this with you, but we both have to keep it civil.

          • AC57 says:

            Bruce, even Obama is telling the new candidates and the freshman congressmen to slow down with their policies, pointing towards the price tag.

        • ZoomZ says:

          How about sanctuary cities or states?
          You like it?
          How about driver license for illegals?
          Nice for you?
          How about illegals having the right to vote? Sits good on your side?
          How about killing babies born outside the womb?
          Oh yeah…why not?

          And a hundred other reasons as well.

          • AC57 says:

            I didn’t even mention those topics, but I’ll bite:

            There are much more pressing matter than illegal immigration like, I don’t know, climate change, education, the national debt? But while we do need to improve our border, a wall is not going to work in any measure, and casting out all the illegal immigrants in this country is morally repugnant. As long as they have no criminal record, I say let them stay, but don’t let them vote for at least 5 years, and let them get a drivers license. If they commit a crime, they need to be cast out.

            Abortions should be readily available, especially for those who need it for health related reasons or birth. Reatricting access is immoral. I’m not pro choice, or pro life, I’m pro science, pro education, and pro minding your/my own god damn business. I may not like abortions, but that’s just my personal opinion, and no law or opinion should stand in the way of people getting what they need to survive or better their lives.

            • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

              @AC57: I agree with you almost entirely on your points above on reproductive choice and undocumented workers. I’ll address the other areas where we disagree separately.

              On reproductive choice, if abortion is made illegal, it will still go on. Rich women will go to Canada or states where it is still legal. (Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it can be legal at the state level, as it was pre-Roe.) Poor women will get illegal abortions, and some will die. this was the status quo pre-Roe. So @AC57 is correct to refer to this as a moral issue.

              btw, it is basically illegal in a large number of states now, where there will be one or two clinics offering the service per state. that, too, is immoral.

              On undocumented workers, @AC57 said it all very well. Why not just give them a path to citizenship? of course they should get drivers licenses. By the way, it is the employers who are breaking the more serious law.

              The right wing has been whipped up into a furor over the undocumented. Take a close look at your next take-out deliveryman, or the Mexican guy working in the local fruit and vegetable store. Are these people dangerous? Do you feel threatened by them? Do you really think they are your enemy?

        • 2 Old 2 B Trendy says:

          Re: “Medicare for All? It’s a very popular idea, and would actually help business.”

          HELP business ??!!

          This past week a New York Times article pointed out the devastating economic toll ‘Medicare For All’ could have on the economy (thousands losing jobs at insurance companies forced to close, new taxes to support the program, etc.)

          Let the government handle your medical issues? Ask a Canadian told by his nationalized medical plan to wait a year for surgery…or think about how well the VHA or DMV handles their jobs.

          • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

            seriously, @2 Old? you think single payer health insurance is not immensely popular in Canada? how come not a single party, even the Conservatives, want to get rid of it?

            actually, health outcomes are the same or better in Canada than they are in the US. please do the research.

            Medicare for All would actually help American business immensely, as it would move the cost of health care off the business ledger. that would help increase the competitiveness against all products that compete with imports. Japanese and German auto companies benefit from universal national health care. the cost to GM of health care is on the order of magnitude of $2,000 per car.

      • Young Sally says:

        Flaming zucchini? That’s a new nickname….not quite sure how you got that but I like it…simply because it is unbelievable.

        • AC57 says:

          The color-based food association with Trump doesn’t work for me: Oranges, Cheetos, and potatoes are all dope in my eyes. I think we can agree that zucchini suck… or I can at least agree with myself on that statement.

    6. Mark Moore says:

      Is there a reason this person is running for President? Does anyone care? She has zero chance.

      • Scott says:

        U.S. senators of both parties are under this laughable illusion that the Senate is some kind of AAA for the major leagues of politics. History shows this isn’t so. Senators tend to fare terribly in the big show. Obama is the rare exception of recent note, and he only won because he was seen as a great healer, which he wasn’t, quite the opposite.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          @Scott, are you a Trump supporter? And/Or a Fox News devotee? Very few people other than those groups see the even tempered and careful Obama as a divisive figure.

          • Scott says:

            Sure Bruce, whatever you say.

            “You didn’t build that”
            “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun”
            “If you like your health plan…”

            Maybe these quotes were only aired on Fox, that must be it.

          • Adam says:

            Obama was the origin of divisive politicking. His strategy, which remains the current DNC one, was to chop Americans into groups, make them hate each other, and hope to cobble together a majority. Blacks vs. whites, men vs. women, gay vs. straight, etc. You’re either willfully blind or very dishonest if you ignore this truth.

        • Mark Moore says:

          If Obama wasn’t a healer it’s because he was constantly being attacked from across the aisle. He healed the economy though pretty well.

    7. whybother says:

      Why would anyone like this waste their time, energy, and someone elses money when they don’t stand a snow balls chance in hell of ever receiving the Democratic nomination. This goes for the scores of others pulling this stunt. What a joke!

    8. Ben David says:

      Here’s what Linda Sarsour says about Gillibrand: “Another champion, another one of our people who works for us on the inside.”

    9. Lone Conservative says:

      No collusion…ha losers!

    10. Stuart says:

      The “shrine to greed” used to be the Gulf & Western Building. I seem to remember attending a screening of a Paramount film in the building sometime in the 1980s.

      • Sherman says:

        My first job out of college was in this building.

        Yes, it was the Gulf & Western building. It was an ugly white tower and constructed very poorly. The building used to sway in the wind. I worked on a high floor and everyone would get nervous on windy days as you could actually feel the building move.

        When it was turned into the Trump building the structure was reinforced to stop the swaying. Of course, the white panels of the building were also removed.

        Say what you want about Trump but the building is now very attractive and it has enhanced the neighborhood. Gillibrand made a mistake in criticizing this building.

        Incidentally, I don’t believe Trump actually has an ownership interest in this building. The owners are likely simply licensing his name.

    11. Been there with Clinton says:

      note to Sen G: drop “we have a plan” – no matter what about – now if not sooner!

    12. michael says:

      I cannot see how she will make it out of the primary – if she even gets that far. It just doesn’t seem likely that she will be able overcome the foreseeable crushing blow by members of her own party for railroading Al Franken out of the Senate. Many UWS’ers may not currently remember her call to have him step down, but politics has a long memory and you can be certain it will be used against her.

    13. Rodger Lodger says:

      Gillibrand is tsuris.

    14. Jan says:

      It’s hard to listen to her speak she is so unknowledgeable

    15. Adam says:

      Irony Alert: She accuses Trump of being divisive, yet then bombastically accuses NYers who dare live in nice and expensive high-rises (which I am sure includes many WSR readers) of being greedy and vain.

      Even for a politician she’s unethical.

    16. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      all these Trump supporters accusing Gillibrand of flip-flopping and being disingenuous. I guess they never noticed how Trump constantly changes, how he used to be a Democrat, etc. Talk about a double standard!