TRANSCRIPT: Gillibrand press gaggle in Des Moines 4/17/2019

The following is a transcript of Kirsten Gillibrand’s press gaggle in Des Moines, Iowa during the evening on 4/17/2019. It is very newsy throughout, and relatively short. I recommend reading the whole thing.


GILLIBRAND: It’s not snowing anymore. I’m not even wearing stockings, it’s so great.
[brief pause]
A: Okay, who’s in charge?
Q: You ready, Alex?
Q2: I’m not asking about Mueller.
Q: Oh, I’ll ask about Mueller.

Q: Do you have any expectations for the Mueller report tomorrow?

I hope that we can read it without redactions. Obviously the House and Senate, we receive top secret, confidential material routinely, it's part of our jobs. So I would like to read an redacted version. I understand if they need to make a public version with certain reactions, but Congress is entitled to the full report.

Q: Senator, I wanted to ask you about your experience on the campaign trail running as a woman and as a white woman. Would you say that you have a tougher time running as a woman? But would you say that you experience any privilege running as a white person?

I guess I don't see it that way. I think what this campaign is about is speaking truth and making sure that we restore this democracy to the hands of the people. I think President Trump really has degraded our democracy and divided us and really torn apart of the moral fabric of this country.

And I think as a woman, and as a mother, that I have a unique set of experiences that really informed what's urgent in our country right now. I have the experience and a record of actually bringing people together passing bipartisan legislation. I past 18 bills in the last Congress alone. I pass big bills like Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal, first gay rights legislation federally, certainly in my time I Senate, in the house. As well as making sure we have the 9/11 help responders passed.

I think a lot of that success was actually because I'm a woman. I have great skills and listening, of finding common ground, of bringing people together. I think those are some of my superpowers. So I think you've got to succeed at the whatever the landscape is, no matter what comes at you. If you ask the question, is their gender bias in America today? Absolutely. Is there gender bias in every industry? Absolutely. But I think for each of us, we can overcome it. And if you want to ask the question, is there racism in every industry? Absolutely.

And so if you have is your sexual candidates who are both discriminated against because of gender bias and race, and then racial bias is even harder. So for me, I'm just going to keep lifting up the voices of Americans who desperately want to be heard, and fighting for what's right and going through fire for what's right.

Q: Senator, you raised $3 million in the last quarter, kind of on the lower end of the spectrum, most of your money -- people are [inaudible] campaign, and a lot of the money you did raise people [inaudible]. Are you worried that your message may not be resonating with middle America?

No. In fact, I'm very excited about our first quarter, because two thirds of our donations came from women. And our average donation was, I think something like $24 a donation, which is among the lowest of all the candidates, but I’m also among the highest candidates in terms of cash on hand.

So I have the resources now to continue to build a national campaign. And I will be campaigning everywhere in Iowa and everywhere in the United States, because my record is so different than any other candidate who is running. Not only did I win a two to one Republican district twice, the last time by a 24 point margin, but then brought together my whole state, the red parts, the blue places, and the purple places to actually have the highest vote total in the history of the state at 72%.

So I think my path to become the nominee and to defeat President Trump is very different. And it will go through every rural place, every red place, every blue place, and every purple place, as I've always done in my state, which has 20 million people. So while I think it'll be a marathon and not a sprint, I feel like I'm built for this marathon and I feel very called to this moment and have the unique qualifications to actually defeat President Trump.

Q: [off-mic question about flood relief]

Absolutely not, I think all the blame rests at the feet of Mitch McConnell. He has a very well-reasoned bill that would give flood relief and disaster relief, to many parts of the country. All he needs to do is put it on the floor. I would bet that bill would pass unanimously, so it's really at his feet.

Q: Can you tell us your impressions of the flood area this morning? Particularly your impressions of the Army Corps of Engineers?

Yeah. So I have grave concerns about how we have handled flood prevention in Iowa and around the country.

The real challenges are, Iowa has gone through droughts and floods cyclically for a long time. The last major flood was in 2011. And we did not do the things that should have been done for Iowans between 2011 and today.

The Army Corps of Engineers had laid out projects, a billion dollars of authorized projects, that have not been funded over the last couple years, which would have prevented the level of destruction and devastation that took place.

So I was very frustrated with the testimony of the Army Corps of Engineers in terms of how they are prioritizing the work, and very concerned that OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, has a formula to decide when projects get funded, that harms rural America. So I got an agreement with this senators who were at the hearing with me to work with me on changing the law, to make sure when we do have threats of flooding, we can actually put in permanent measures to prevent future loss and future destruction.

Q: [first part inaudible]... and what's it gonna look like in that River Basin and is climate change something that has to be addressed between now and then?

A: It has to be urgently addressed because the truth is with global climate change, you are getting severe weather events, this massive flooding is happening more frequently with a greater intensity than ever before.

It's happened in my state, with 100-year floods that are now happening every two or three years. It's really that severe. People are dying, businesses are being destroyed, farms are being destroyed, people are being displaced.

So the truth is we need to take global climate change head on. And for me, it's such an opportunity. The three main ideas on the Green New Deal are all bipartisan, infrastructure money, we're all for roads, bridges, doors, high speed rail, rural broadband, new electric grid, more mass transit, we afford it. Clean air, clean water, which will be so helpful for Iowa. Iowans don’t like the fact there's a lot of nitrates in their water. So why wouldn't you spend the money to give them the resources they need to get it out? And third, green jobs. We talked today with a bunch of a bunch of young people about why they should have access to STEM training so they can be the inventors and entrepreneurs to find out how to make more renewable fuels and more energy efficient products, they’ll invent the future. They are the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, you give them a challenge of net zero carbon emissions in 10 years, Americans will rise to that challenge, they will watch it out in advance and outcompete China and any other nation, the world, on a space race for green energy, so I think we can do it.

I would also put a price on carbon, because if you can use market forces to help you, giving lower tax rates to innovators and higher tax rates to polluters, you'll get there even faster.

Q: Millions of democratic voters here in Iowa kind of lost their chance of getting a woman elected in 2016. And they were beaten by the electoral college and I felt let down by the Clinton campaign. How do you look at that when you speak to those people and say this is a second chance now and, I mean, to get on board once again?

A: I think Iowans see to pick the candidate that's going to represent their values the most. I believe I am that candidate. I'm somebody who understands the economy here. I've been on the Ag committee for 12 years. I understand the role of American manufacturing, I’ve been on the Armed Services Committee for 12 years, and I understand rural water issues, because I've been on the Environment Public Works Committee that does infrastructure and water and so I know that I can be a voice for Iowans and all America because I'm a voice for all New Yorkers and our economy is as diverse as any state. We've got the downstate New York City, you know, big populations and inner city issues. But then we got small cities and upstate about rural areas in Upstate and we've got suburbs in Westchester and so I know I can do this and I know I can represent Iowans the best.

Okay, thanks, guys.