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Foss: Time for Gillibrand to end her presidential run

Foss: Time for Gillibrand to end her presidential run

Foss: Time for Gillibrand to end her presidential run
Gillibrand at her announcement in January
Photographer: Stephen Williams/Gazette Reporter

Maybe U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand just really enjoys campaigning. 

That's the only explanation I can come up with for why New York's junior senator is pushing ahead with a presidential bid that's obviously doomed. 

Early on, I thought Gillibrand's candidacy had some potential. 

Given the size of the Democratic field, and the lack of an obvious front runner, I wouldn't have been surprised to see Gillibrand break out from the pack. 

But the opposite has happened. 

As other campaigns have grown in stature, Gillibrand's has seemed almost to shrink, fading from public consciousness despite the senator's best efforts to appeal to voters. 

Gillibrand might still believe there's time for her to connect with rank and file Democrats and win them over, but her unmemorable performance at last month's Democratic debate indicates that's extremely unlikely. 

She struggled to distinguish herself, and a recent Associated Press article included her on a list candidates who might not make the next round of debates.

"Short on support and money and bound by tough party rules, once soaring politicians may soon be seen as also-rans," the article notes, adding that Gillibrand has yet to meet either the polling or donor thresholds --  2 percent and 130,000 respectively -- required to qualify for the debate. 

Gillibrand's failure to hit these benchmarks is all the more stunning when you consider that she was once considered a top-tier presidential candidate -- someone who might give heavyweights such as Joe Biden or Kamala Harris a run for their money. 

Instead, she's been revealed as a candidate for whom voters have little enthusiasm, even after they meet her. 

In an attempt to understand why, Buffalo News reporter Jerry Zremiski interviewed 70 New Hampshire voters and, in an article titled "I don't really know her:  Why Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign is stuck at 0.3%," Zremiski wrote, "Gillibrand is failing to leave voters with much of an impression. Two-thirds of the voters interviewed -- including 15 of the 21 who just saw Gillibrand's 10-minute lightning round of a stump speech -- said they didn't know enough about her to have a strong opinion of her. "

Her troubles, Zremiski writes, "appeared tied to her message and how she delivers it. While Gillibrand has held several New Hampshire events focused on her policy proposals, her stump speech is half as long as those of some other Democratic contenders, and it focuses largely on her biography and her passion for a fight." 

I'd also argue that the Gillibrand campaign feels superfluous -- like it has no particular reason for being. 

She hasn't given voters a compelling reason to choose her over top candidates. 

And, unlike other long-shot candidates, she's not using her platform to highlight an interesting idea that no one else is talking about. Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang might be languishing in the polls, but his proposal to provide every American with a universal basic income has prompted a broader discussion of whether UBI is a good idea. 

On Monday little-known candidate Eric Swalwell, a Democratic representative from California, announced that he was ending his presidential bid. 

He is the first candidate to drop out of the race, but with over 20 Democrats still in the running, there will surely be others. 

Given her campaign's clear lack of support, Gillibrand should consider joining Swalwell on the sidelines. 

It's time for her to focus on representing the constituents she's neglected to pursue this ill-fated presidential run. 

Reach Gazette columnist Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

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