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Gillibrand Balances Progressive Policy Positions With Bipartisan Record At Manchester Meet-And-Greet

Casey McDermott

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand returned to New Hampshire Friday night for her first visit since announcing plans to run for president.

Fielding questions at a packed meet and greet in a Manchester brewery -- which was hosted by the New Hampshire Young Democrats but attended by Democrats young and old -- Gillibrand was unequivocal when pressed on a grab bag of progressive policy reforms.

Would she support a short path to citizenship for – in the words of the question-asker, “Dreamers, aspiring citizens, and those escaping oppression and violence?” Yes, Gillbrand said without hesitation, before moving along to the next question.

Would she support repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from being used on abortions? “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes – I would do that.” 

And what about the Green New Deal? “These are far too easy questions. Yes, I support it – I think it’s great.”

“Not only am I committed to the entire framework of the Green New Deal, but I would also add to it—putting a price on carbon,” Gillibrand continued. “And the reason I would add that one piece is because you need to stimulate innovation. When you put a price on carbon, it tells the polluter you’re going to have to pay a lot more because you are causing human harm.”

In response to another question about environmental oversight, Gillibrand also called for aggressive action to deal with the effects of industrial pollutants like PFOA – a chemical that’s seeped into the water supply of communities in her home state as well as New Hampshire. She said the federal government should label PFOA as a carcinogen and should provide ongoing medical monitoring for people who’ve been exposed.

“There are babies in my county that have levels of this chemical that are far exceeding any normal or safe level,” Gillibrand said. “And moms and dads don’t even know, is my child going to get cancer at a young age? Is my child going to live a full life? Like, the fear – so I think we have to be aggressive, and I think that clean air and clean water is a right. I think it’s an absolute right.”

All of these answers drew predictable cheers from the roomful of Democrats huddled inside Stark Brewing Company for Friday’s event. But when pressed by a voter one-on-one, after the public questioning wrapped up, about how she plans to set herself apart in a crowded Democratic field, Gillibrand pointed to her track record of success in districts that aren’t just dominated by progressives.

“I represented a district in upstate New York that was 2-1 one Republican. Not only did I win that district the first time by 6 points but I won that district the second time by 24 points,” Gillibrand said, referring to her early years as a congresswoman. “Since being a senator, I’ve been able to bring our state together in a way where I bring the red and purple, blue places together.

After Manchester, Gillibrand’s agenda for the weekend also includes stops in Nashua, Portsmouth and Littleton – and as the event wound down, she assured a group of college Democrats from Dartmouth, her alma mater, that she hoped to be back in just two weeks.  

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