MANCHESTER, N.H. – He’s the clear front-runner in the polls in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says that former Vice President Joe Biden’s advantage is largely just a matter of name recognition.
“It is very early and I think there’s an enormous advantage if you do have 100 percent name recognition. And there’s an advantage if you have more coverage,” Gillibrand explained on Friday while talking to reporters during a campaign swing in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.
Gillibrand, who’s represented New York in the Senate for the past decade, said she can beat Biden in the primaries by “building up my own name recognition, which means coming to New Hampshire over and over and talking to voters about the issues they care about.”
The senator, who represented a moderate to conservative upstate New York district in the House of Representatives last decade, maintained that she can win “the red places and the blue places at the same time.”
“In my last election, I won back 18 Trump counties,” she added.
And the candidate said she can “win places like Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania,” three states that President Trump flipped from blue to red in 2016.
Gillibrand’s poll numbers are hovering in the low single digits in national and early-primary and caucus states. But she said she’s not concerned, pointing out that there’s still nine months to go until the actual primary voting begins.
“I think it’s really early. It’s obviously a marathon and not a sprint. And my record is really different than most candidates that are running.”
While Gillibrand has met the polling threshold for making the Democratic primary debates – which kick off in late June – she’s yet to reach the other threshold – which is topping contributions from 65,000 individuals.
“I just have to keep building my grass-roots support,” she emphasized. “I do need to keep engaging voters and speaking to them and asking them for their support.”
Gillibrand’s known as a strong fundraiser in the Senate, but she only hauled in an unspectacular $3 million for her presidential campaign during the first three months of this year. But thanks to a larger transfer of funds left over from her 2018 Senate re-election campaign, her coffers are pretty full right now.
“I have the third-highest cash on hand for this election,” she spotlighted. “So I do have the resources it will take to bring election through the primary to victory.”
Gillibrand was in New Hampshire days after the vice president’s wife, Jill Biden, said it was “time to move on” from the renewed controversy over how her husband led the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, during which law professor Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment.
Biden, who was Senate Judiciary Committee chair at the time, recently faced renewed criticism of his handling of the hearings, especially because witnesses who could have corroborated Hill’s accusations were never called to appear before the panel.
Asked by Fox News if Biden needed to directly apologize to Hill, Gillibrand said “that’s up to Vice President Biden. During his presidential campaign I’m sure he’ll have to talk to voters about it.”
The senator then quickly pivoted and spotlighted that “I have a very strong agenda about how we can empower everyone in the workplace, particularly how we empower women.”
Gillibrand, who’s been dubbed as the #MeToo senator, has made women’s rights a key part of her campaign as she bids for president.