It’s the story that somehow got overlooked at the Democratic National Convention: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will not be running for president in 2016.
Yep, the Des Moines Register, an otherwise fairly well-regarded newspaper, revealed that New York’s junior senator for the past three years told that to one of its reporters after Gillibrand gave a brief talk to the Iowa delegation.
Upon hearing this, I immediately decided that I, too, should make it clear that I am not running in 2016 and probably not in 2020 either. I mean, the likelihood of my running is obviously less than Gillibrand’s but not by that much.
The Des Moines paper clearly scooped dozens of reporters from New York newspapers, TV and radio stations and Internet blogs, or whatever the young’uns call those things, who were in Charlotte covering the Democratic meeting. Apparently it never occurred to those other red-faced reporters to simply ask the senator whether she will be running for the nation’s highest office. Then again, it probably never occurred to them to pose that question to the cab driver who took them to the arena.
New York’s newshounds should not feel too bad about the scoop. The Des Moines newspaper also beat out reporters from Minneapolis by revealing that Amy Klobuchar, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Minnesota, will not be running for president either. I probably should be embarrassed — but am not — to confess that I never even heard of Klobuchar until learning of her non-presidential aspirations. She apparently addressed the same Iowans’ breakfast meeting as did Gillibrand.
I kept asking myself: Is it possible that one of the editors at the Des Moines Register was having a little fun with the paper’s political writers, instructing them to ask each and every one of the 20,000 or so attendees at the Democratic convention if they might have a go at the White House?
But in Gillibrand’s case, let’s face it, they’ve been underestimating her for years, even fellow Dems.
It’s October of 2006: Private citizen Gillibrand is outside the Troy Record newspaper, where she is due to meet with the editorial board, and I am there, mic in hand, to show this upstart that we news types are not easily taken in by her little campaign against Congressman John Sweeney, once referred to as “Congressman Kick-a--” by George W. Bush. Kirsten, c’mon, you really expect to knock off Sweeney? Patiently, she explained to me, “John, do you really think that the Democratic Congressional Campaign people would be spending all this money here if I did not have a chance?” Of course, at the time, citizen Gillibrand knew what we did not: that Sweeney’s campaign was about to implode due to marital discord and alcohol, always a swell combination.
By January of ’09, when Gov. David Paterson finally concluded his soap-opera-cum-selection-process to replace Hillary Clinton, I had become a genius when it came to Gillibrand. With Congresswoman Carolyn McDonald and other downstate Democrats vowing to primary this upstate hick, I suggested on the air that they check out her tough-as-nails lineage and drop those challenges as folly. You see, her grandma, Polly Noonan, probably the most powerful female politician in this area for a long time, was not exactly an “over the river and through the woods” kind. Noonan could make truck drivers shudder with some nicely chosen words. And her name in print always was followed by the words: “close confidante of Erastus Corning.” For a while, I thought that was her title, as in “professor emeritus,” or “leader of the pack.”
Women’s lifestyle magazines like Vogue and Elle still keep elbowing one another to applaud Sen. Gillibrand’s fashion choices (imagine the howling if “Field and Stream” used the lead paragraph of its profile to tell us what she was wearing) and predict when she will give her inaugural Inaugural. And Sen. Harry Reid declares Gillibrand to be a “hottie” whose political star is rising.
But President Gillibrand? Commander-in-Chief Kirsten Gillibrand? Or even Vice President Kirsten Gillibrand? C’mon, Des Moines Register, that Midwest drought is taking its toll.
Please, someone lead those drought-stricken political scribes to water and explain that we’ve got this governor here in New York by the name of Cuomo who, it is rumored, might want to become president one of these days. Iowans, please listen up: Cuomo continues to say that he is much too busy governing this state to even entertain the thought of running for the White House, which means, of course, that he thinks about it all the time. That means, of course, that Gillibrand can forget about it right now and concentrate on her Republican re-election challenger, Wendy Long (-shot).
John McLoughlin is a freelance columnist and a veteran Capital Region journalist now at NewsChannel 13. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. Reach him at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.