Here’s what President Barack Obama said about the soon-to-be junior senator from New York:
During her career, Kirsten has been a strong voice for transparency and reform in government and shares the belief that government should be open, accessible and work for all of our citizens. In Congress and as special counsel for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, she worked to strengthen public and private partnerships to invest in infrastructure and New York's economy.
At this time of great challenge, I know that Kirsten has the integrity, character, and dedication to public service to help us achieve our greatest goals.
Because of Gillibrand's pro-gun position and her backing by the National Rifle Assn., 36 percent of New York State voters, including 50 percent of Democrats, are less likely to vote for her when she runs for election next year, while 17 percent are more likely to vote for her. Another 41 percent say this doesn't make a difference.
So with an eye on 2010, Gillibrand was Al Sharpton’s “special guest” at the National Action Network’s weekly rally.
In his introductory remarks, Sharpton talked about the “drama and some trauma around the governor selecting a successor to Hillary Clinton”:
Don’t get distracted on a lot of issues that have nothing to do with where we need to go. Others can deal with political trivia. We have to deal with our social reality.
Reporter said to me this morning, “Well, do you know her well?” No. But I would rather it was someone I didn’t know that reached out than somebody that I do know that takes us for granted. Some of the folks I know too well. They’ve never done anything. They never will do anything.
Gillibrand said righting the ailing economy is her number one priority. A former securities lawyer, she defended her vote against the Wall Street bailout:
I voted against the bailout because of the lack of regulation. Nobody was watching. We don’t know whether the banks are worth anything… My goal was to try to change the bill.
The decisions that we make have to be the right decisions. We can’t do it over and over. We have to do it right.
We need the ability to go into those banks with forensic accounting and find out what they’re worth and what they’re doing with that money. We may be giving billions of dollars to banks that will go out of business in a few months.
We need regulations, the right regulation that’s going to work… If we keep throwing good money after bad, the taxpayer is going to be left holding the bag.
Gillibrand took questions from the press and NAN members. BTW, can you, um, imagine, you know, Princess Caroline, taking questions in a public forum?
Gillibrand told her new constituents:
I’m here to listen to you. I’m here to be an advocate for your priorities… This may be my first visit but it will not be my last visit.