As Kirsten Gillibrand fights to make the debate stage in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, the senator from New York says Sunday’s Fox News town hall will help.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for me. I want to talk to voters where they are. I want to be able to go into every living room and make sure voters know who I am, why I feel the call to run, and why I believe I’m the best candidate to run this country and to bring this country back together again,” she said in a Fox News interview.
Gillibrand will take questions from the audience during a town hall that’s being moderated by Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace in Dubuque Iowa on Sunday at 7pm ET.
Gillibrand is the latest 2020 Democratic White House hopeful to take part in a Fox News town hall, following Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota as well as South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Former San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro - who later served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama – is on deck, with a June 13 Fox News town hall.
For Gillibrand, the national exposure from the prime-time event Iowa comes at a crucial time – as she fights to breakout from the pack in a Democratic presidential field that now boasts an historic two-dozen candidates.
Gillibrand, a former congresswoman who has represented New York State in the Senate for a decade, grabbed the national spotlight in recent years for being one of the leading voices on Capitol Hill on sexual assault. For her high profile and outspoken efforts, she was dubbed the #MeToo senator.
Since launching her presidential campaign in January, Gillibrand's built a respectable campaign organization in the crucial early voting states and appears more than comfortable with the 'retail' style politics in Iowa and New Hampshire.
But since jumping into the race, Gillibrand’s been hovering right around one percent – or less – in most national and early voting state polls. She’s watched one-time extreme long-shots like Buttigieg and entrepreneur Andrew Yang move ahead of her in the polls.
And the lawmaker who was considered a fearsome fundraiser for her Senate elections has seriously struggled to raise campaign cash for her presidential bid.
While Gillibrand’s met one of the two criteria to guarantee her a spot on the stage at the late June and late July primary debates – one percent in three recognized polls – she’s yet to hit the second threshold – campaign contributions from 65,000 individual donors.
“They are tough rules to follow, so you’ve got to earn them,” she lamented. “So I’m going to work really hard to earn my way onto that debate stage and earn my way by getting enough supporters around the country.”
That’s where she says televised town halls – like Sunday’s event with Fox News – come in handy.
“I’m certainly going to abide by the rules and make sure I not only qualify but I get to every debate stage and I think by doing town halls across the county it’s going to help me get there,” she emphasized.
But it only gets tougher as the candidates move deeper into the campaign season. The Democratic National Committee announced on Wednesday that they’re raising the thresholds for the contenders to make the stage at the third and fourth rounds of debates – in September and October.
The senator remains upbeat, saying she’s optimistic she’ll “certainly be among the last standing” in the Democratic nomination race.
Gillibrand then made a plug for voters to check out and contribute at her campaign website.
And she stressed that “I’m going to be asking people to participate in every way that they can.”