Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will look to bring an increasingly liberal platform and a strong focus on women's issues to the 2020 presidential race.
The 52-year-old Gillibrand, who has served in Congress for just over a decade, has promised to fight for protections for women's rights, lower healthcare costs, accessible education, higher wages, veterans benefits and gun control, while also bringing a track record as a vocal opponent to President Donald Trump.
"I'm going to run for president of the United States because, as a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own. Which is why I believe that healthcare should be a right and not a privilege," Gillibrand said as she announced her bid on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "It's why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn't matter what block you grow up on. And I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class."
Gillibrand began her career as a lawyer and later served in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. She ran for a House seat to represent the New York's 20th district as a Democrat in 2006 and ultimately won the seat held by a long-term Republican incumbent.
Three years later, Gillibrand was appointed to the U.S. Senate as the replacement for Hillary Clinton. Gillibrand went on to win a special election in 2010, was voted to her first full term in 2012 and won re-election in November.
During her time in the Senate, she has been outspoken on sexual abuse, becoming one of the first senators to call for Trump and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign over allegations of sexual assault. She also said former President Bill Clinton should have resigned over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Some of her notable actions in the Senate included introducing bills to prevent sexual assault in colleges and the military. Gillibrand was also a strong opponent to the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and voted against Trump's appointees and policies more than any other member of Congress, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Gillibrand initially won election in the House in part due to some more conservative stances that include supporting gun rights legislation and opposing amnesty for undocumented immigrants.
When asked to explain these positions -- many of which she changed after being appointed to the Senate -- during a recent trip to Iowa, Gillibrand said she "represented a rural place in Congress" but later gained a better understanding of issues from a view outside of upstate New York.
"My story is my story. And when I am wrong, I admit it," she told CNN. "It is just who I am. And so that is why these stories are part of my story and it is what it is. It just defines who I am."
She said this wider understanding directly contributed to her radical change on gun control legislation, as her platform now calls for universal background checks and efforts to close loopholes for gun purchases.
"So, I had an A-rating [from the National Rifle Association] as a House member," she said. "I only really looked at guns through the lens of hunting. My mother still shoots the Thanksgiving turkey. But when I became Senator, I recognized I had a lot to learn about my state and all of the 20 million I was going to represent."
When asked about how her previous stance on immigration contrasted with recent comments that Trump's immigration policies are racist, she said the president has been "creating fear and division" and "destroying the moral fabric of what this country stands for."
"We have never been afraid of immigrants. We have never been afraid of refugees and asylum-seekers," she said. "This president has sown fear and division that just makes us weaker. And so I think what he's done is so horrible and so mean-spirited, that I am nothing like him and never will be, because my values haven't changed."
Gillibrand told Colbert her first act as president would be to restore "the integrity and compassion of this country." She also said she'd work to find bipartisan solutions to issues.
"I would bring people together to start getting things done," she said. "If you want to get healthcare done, you have to bring Democrats and Republicans to the table on the shared values of this country."