Kirsten Gillibrand in Iowa City: I will be the nominee

Democratic hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand made campaign stops in Iowa City on Thursday, where she championed women’s rights and the passing of the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund.


Roman Slabach

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., listens to community members during a campaign event at The Mill in Iowa City on Thursday July 25, 2019. Sen. Gillibrand stopped in Iowa City as she campaigns for the Democratic Party’s Nomination for the 2020 Presidential election.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

2020 Democratic hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand spoke to a crowded room in Iowa City on July 25 championing her achievements, which, she said, others deemed impossible to fulfill.

New York Sen. Gillibrand pointed to the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and noted that she led the bill in 2009 after replacing former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. She said she was told by members of her staff that passing the fund would be impossible, but she worked to get the legislation passed as a freshman senator.

“I told the stories of brave men and women — brave men and women who raced up towers when everyone was coming down,” Gillibrand said at the Mill. “Just yesterday we did the impossible. We made the Victims Compensation Fund permanent.”

The fund compensates 9/11 first responders with health care and other needs for the rest of their lives. The legislation, passed on July 23, ensures funding in the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund for the next seven decades. The bill Gillibrand worked to pass in 2009 ensured funding for five years.

Gillibrand was elected as a representative in New York’s 20th Congressional District in 2007, a largely Republican district. Gillibrand was appointed to Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat in 2009.

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After Gillibrand’s meet-and-greet, she joined 2020 Democratic candidate Amy Klobuchar right across Burlington Street at a forum on women’s leadership in the workforce at the Iowa City Hilton Garden Inn.

The forum featured women panelists who represented unions across the Midwest. Issues among concern were collective-bargaining rights and sexual harassment in the workplace.

“I promise you, every time a door to the negotiating room closes, women’s reproductive freedom, women’s rights, women’s equality is the first thing that’s thrown out the window to create compromise, and that is compromise by Democrats and Republicans — both sides of the aisle in congress,” Gillibrand said at the forum.

Some Democrats running for the nomination believe that the #MeToo movement has “gone too far,” she said, and some started touting women’s rights at the start of their campaign. She did not name any specific candidate.

RELATED: Amy Klobuchar advocates for labor rights in Iowa City stop

Gillibrand acknowledged her low poll numbers, saying she’s been asked by the news media how she thinks she will win the Democratic nomination.

“Impossible to be the Democratic nominee?” she said. “Dare me. I will be the nominee.”

Gillibrand has polled at an average of 0.5 percent in national polls. Gillibrand qualified for the first two Democratic nomination-candidate debates but has not yet qualified for the debates in September. In order to qualify, a candidate needs poll at a minimum of 2 percent in four qualifying polls and have at least 130,000 unique campaign donors.

Anna Flaming, Iowa City resident and mother of a 7-month-old, said she likes Gillibrand’s history of winning elections in New York.

“I think it’s exciting to hear from a candidate who has surprised people with the way she’s run,” Flaming said, referring to Gillibrand winning in a Republican-dominated district.

Flaming also likes that Gillibrand has a plan to combat climate change. On July 25, Gillibrand unveiled a plan enacting an excise tax on fossil-fuel producers that would raise $100 billion per year to address climate change. Her 10-year plan would enact the Green New Deal, impose a carbon tax of $52 per metric ton, rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, and lead a clean-energy, international space race.

Gillibrand wrote in a Medium post that addressing climate change should be this generation’s “moonshot.”