Sandy Coulter and her husband Madison Gross, 66, woke up ready to rally on Sunday. They prepared signs, wore their special white jockey hats and arrived at the Trump International Hotel before noon to see New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, kick off her 2020 presidential campaign.
“We support anybody who f*cks Trump and nobody has done that harder than she has in the Senate,” said Coulter, who would not reveal her age.
“I come with my wife,” her husband said, smiling and shrugging his shoulders.
“NO! You like her a lot,” said Coulter to her husband. “He is the one who made me listen to her speech. You are lying, tell the truth. You were prancing around the house yelling ´You got to turn it on, hurry up, don´t miss this, she is great´,” replied Coulter, referring to a televised town hall in which Gillibrand participated last week.
“Right ’cause she was killing it,” admitted Gross. “She is the one senator that stood up to Trump more than everyone else on the judicial nominations.”
With their dark sunglasses on, the couple joined the crowd of supporters waiting under a bright sun in front of the hotel on West 62nd Street and Central Park West for the candidate to give her first official speech as a presidential candidate. A woman with a tight ponytail and a shirt that read “2020 Gillibrand” guided supporters to a spot in front of the main stage built especially for the candidate.
A group of volunteers were looking for potential Gillibrand fans outside Columbus Circle subway station. Others warned clueless runners or pedestrians about the closed streets around the stage where the candidate was about to appear.
Gillibrand is part of the pack of at least 17 Democratic candidates running for the 2020 election. With the campaign theme “bravery,” she wants to position herself as the fiercest critic of President Donald Trump.
And this Sunday was not the exception. Standing literally on Trump´s doorstep, Gillibrand delivered an anti-Trump speech.
“President Trump is tearing apart the moral fabric of this country,” said Gillibrand. “He puts his name in bold on every building because he wants us to believe he is strong.”
“He is not. Our president is a coward,” the senator said, demanding the unveiling of the full report written by special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russian investigation, which was released on Friday.
“I don’t often agree with Richard Nixon, but he was right to say the American people have a right to know whether or not their president is a crook,” she added.
The speech stirred up the crowd of several hundred holding blue banners.
“I love Kirsten Gillibrand. She is one of many great selections in the Democratic Party right now and I am excited. I have not made my mind, but I believe she is a viable and strong candidate,” said Jasjit Singh, 56, who is convinced that recent polls don´t really reflect reality.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Senator Gillibrand only has the support of 29 percent of New York State voters; Mayor Bill de Blasio got the thumbs up from only 24 percent of those polled.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is the number one among New York State voters with a 62 percent approval rating, according to the same poll.
Dion Cini, 50, is one of those that doesn’t approve of Sen. Gillibrand. He stood by the metal barricades, waving a huge pro-Trump flag in front of dozens of cameras. “I am a marketing guy, so this is an advertisement for my president. More eyeballs, more people,” said Cini.
Seven speakers stood up on the stage before Gillibrand made her entrance, including a few “dreamers,” young immigrants that were brought illegally to the United States when they were children, and some anti-gun activists.
In her 30-minute speech, Gillibrand touched on these issues, but also announced her support for Medicare for all, affordable college tuition, universal pre-K and the Green New Deal, a plan to fight climate change.
“We don´t build walls, we build bridges,” said Gillibrand.
But the senator from New York has not always thought that way. Ten years ago, CNN reported, Gillibrand said that securing a southern border was a national priority. The senator has also changed her positions regarding gun control during the past years.
Nevertheless, her message seemed to inspire many who attended the rally.
“I like her message of women’s empowerment and the message of motherhood which I think is good for the Democratic Party post the 2018 midterms,” said Christopher Bowman, a 22-year-old recent graduate.
Gillibrand still has to find a way to distinguish herself from her other Democratic competitors. Even Coulter and Gross who seemed excited for the senator’s launch couched their support for the senator somewhat before the rally.
“Well, we are not completely decided, but [she] is who we like the most,” admitted Coulter. “ I love Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker too.”