Bravery in politics was at the forefront of Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign stop in downtown Las Vegas on Thursday.
“I really think what America is looking for is someone who has a bolder and better vision for this country,” Gillibrand, 52, told an audience of about 60 seated on the Atomic Liquors bar patio.
Earlier in the day the New York senator took part in a roundtable discussion at the UNLV Immigration Clinic.
During Thursday night’s speech Gillibrand highlighted her more than 12-year congressional career. She talked about fighting to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and working across party lines with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., last year to overhaul Congress’ sexual harassment policy.
“I can really work with anyone,” she joked about the latter effort.
Being a candidate who can unite a divided country was a cornerstone of Gillibrand’s pitch Thursday. She shared how she joined Congress by beating a three-term Republican incumbent in a heavily red upstate New York district in 2006.
“I’m able to win the red places, the purple places and the blue places,” she said. “And so I believe I can do that in the rest of the country.”
Gillibrand also flaunted her progressive bona fides.
She said she supports the Green New Deal, universal pre-kindergarten and expanding the GI Bill to provide free college education in exchange for public service.
She has shunned corporate PAC donations and advocated for eliminating cash bail and legalizing marijuana under federal law. She said she wants to allow undocumented immigrants to pay into and, ultimately, receive benefits from Social Security to strengthen the program while they become citizens.
“Over a 10-year period they will earn their way into citizenship,” she said. “That is what comprehensive immigration reform looks like.”
Gillibrand also took aim at Republican President Donald Trump.
She called his administration’s transgender military ban the “most cowardly act a president could ever do” and blasted the family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border as “egregious.”
“I think his kryptonite is a strong woman who speaks her mind and does what’s right,” Gillibrand said. “So that’s why I think I’m the best opponent against President Trump.”
Gillibrand’s remarks won praise from her audience.
Mary Macioce said she’s seen six Democratic presidential candidates speak in Las Vegas this year. The 68-year old said she knew nothing about Gillibrand before Thursday night but walked away impressed with the candidate.
“She can handle any type of question,” Macioce said. “Her responses are quick. They’re genuine, or they appear to be. And she is very knowledgeable.”
Illinois resident Julio McNeal, 27, said he stumbled upon the campaign event while on vacation in Las Vegas. He stayed for the entire event and said he thought Gillibrand was a candidate who could appeal to young voters.
“I see her as a better, younger, stronger, million-dollar situation of a Hillary Clinton,” he said. “She seemed like she was much better.”
Contact Michael Scott Davidson at email@example.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.