On Politics With Lisa Lerer: A Flash Point for Women in Politics

Henry: Yeah. We had to do a shelter-in-place.

Gillibrand: And it was frightening for me as a parent because I want to rush to the school; I want to protect my child. And that’s what parents every day are feeling.

Do you think the Democratic field’s too big? It’s a complaint I’ve heard from a lot of voters.

Gillibrand: No, because at the end of the day, what a primary’s about is allowing people to come forward with their visions for the country, with their experience, and giving caucusgoers in Iowa, early voters in New Hampshire, the opportunity to assess them and who is the best standard-bearer to not only defeat Trump but actually govern.

And I do believe there’s been a false choice in the narrative, that you either have to be a super-uber-progressive who inspires the base or you need to be the moderate who wins back those Obama-Trump voters. I don’t think that’s true. I think you actually need somebody who can do both, which is ultimately why I decided to run, because I can do both, and I have done both in the decade I’ve been in public service and in the U.S. Senate.

I’m wondering if you think that you have taken a disproportionate amount of, uh, (glancing at Henry), poop, for the Al Franken situation?

Gillibrand: Without a doubt. I would do it again, because I will stand by those eight women.

I think that, given he had eight allegations — two since he was elected, and the last one was a congressional staffer — I just got to the point where enough was enough, and I wasn’t willing to continue to defend him with my silence and continue to carry his water. And I felt I had to speak out. I was the first, and 34 other senators quickly followed me. You wouldn’t know that today because I seem to stand alone. But we, as a party, should hold each other to the highest standards, not the lowest.

In your view, is there a path back for some people who are accused in this #MeToo era? And what does that look like?

Gillibrand: Of course, there’s always room for redemption. We are a country that believes in redemption. All it takes is an ounce of humility to recognize that you were wrong, the ability to say you’re sorry, and then you are redeemed. It just takes a little bit of humility and thoughtfulness. That’s all it takes.