Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York officially joined the 2020 presidential race on Sunday, declaring in an announcement video that America needs “a leader who makes big, bold, brave choices,” and that she is that leader.
There was little drama about whether Ms. Gillibrand would officially enter the presidential race ever since she had announced she was exploring a run in January on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” She has spent the last two months traveling the country and raising money, in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California and Texas.
The video announcement kicks off a busy week for Ms. Gillibrand that will culminate in what her campaign is billing as her first speech as a presidential candidate next Sunday in Manhattan, which she will deliver, pointedly, outside one of President Trump’s properties.
While some candidates have shied from making Mr. Trump a centerpiece of their campaigns, the location of the speech signals that Ms. Gillibrand has no such hesitation. She has voted against Mr. Trump’s nominees at a faster clip than any other senator — a talking point for her on the campaign trail.
In her announcement video, Ms. Gillibrand uses the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a jumping-off point to her campaign.
“It asks, ‘Will brave win?’” she says of the national anthem. “Well, it hasn’t always. And it isn’t right now.” As Ms. Gillibrand narrates, the imagery of the video turns from paeans to patriotism to clips of Mr. Trump and the violence spurred by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va.
Ms. Gillibrand lists some of her top policy priorities in the video, including universal health care, paid family leave for all, ending gun violence, a Green New Deal and getting “money out of politics.” Ms. Gillibrand has put her advocacy for women at both the center of her political career and her coming presidential campaign.
Ms. Gillibrand has gained little traction in a crowded Democratic race with more than 15 candidates, including six senators (four of whom are women). Polls show her drawing around 1 percent support. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the biggest name among expected candidates not to enter yet, though he has been telling allies he is likely to run.
One advantage for Ms. Gillibrand is that she stashed away more than $10 million in her uncompetitive 2018 re-election that can now be spent on her presidential run.
Ms. Gillibrand has sold herself as a rare candidate able to win in Republican strongholds, citing her unexpected win in her first congressional race, in a conservative district in upstate New York in 2006. But that story line is complicated by the fact that at the time Ms. Gillibrand held drastically different positions on guns and immigration than she does today.
On Monday, in a big chance to appear before a national audience, Ms. Gillibrand will travel to Michigan for MSNBC’s first town hall of the presidential season. She will then return to Iowa for the third time this year, and make her first appearance in Nevada on Thursday. She will also be featured on Desus and Mero’s new Showtime program after the Bronx-born comics spent a day with her last month in Troy, N.Y., where her campaign is headquartered.
Next Sunday she will deliver her kickoff speech in front of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.