Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand claimed Sunday that despite previously advocating for the same immigration policies as President Donald Trump, his positions are “racist” but hers were not.
“[My immigration positions] certainly weren’t empathetic and they were not kind and I did not think about suffering in other people’s lives,” Gillibrand told Jake Tapper when he confronted her with her conservative immigration platform while serving as the congresswoman for New York’s 20th Congressional District.
“You said Trump’s immigration positions are racist — that’s the word you used, racist,” Tapper said.
“If Trump’s immigration positions are racist, were they racist when you held some of those positions as well?” he asked.
“One thing I did 10 years ago when I became senator and was going to represent 20 million people across our state, I recognized that a lot of places in my state were different and I needed to understand what those constituents needed, too,” Gillibrand continued. I took the time, I went down to Brooklyn … I realized that the things I had said were wrong.” (RELATED: Gillibrand: I Never Meant Abolish ICE When I Said ‘Abolish ICE’)
Running for the House in 2006, Gillibrand attacked her opponent from the right on immigration and called securing the border “a national security priority.” In a 2007 interview, Gillibrand said “you have to close the borders” as a first step to “right size” immigration. In a 2008 mailer sent from her congressional office, Gillibrand touted her efforts to expedite “the removal of illegal aliens by expanding detention capacity and increasing the number of Federal District Court judges.”
The New York senator has referred to Trump’s immigration and border security policies as racist on multiple occasions. She gained attention while appearing on CBS’s “60 Minutes” in February 2018 after she called Trump’s positions “racist.” She also slammed the president for his “racist message” while campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, reported The New York Times.
“What President Trump is doing is creating fear and division and a darkness across this country that I’ve never seen before. One of the reasons I’m running for president is because we have to restore that integrity to our presidency, to our country,” Gillibrand said. “What President Trump is doing is destroying the moral fabric of what this country stands for.” (RELATED: Gillibrand Makes Her First Political Flip Flop Since Announcing Presidential Run)
Gillibrand announced Tuesday that she is launching an exploratory committee to run for president in 2020, even though she pledged prior to her midterm election she would serve her full six-year term if re-elected to the Senate.
“I think what this president has done is so horrible and so mean-spirited that I am nothing like him,” Gillibrand said. “I never will be because my values haven’t changed.”
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