Kirsten Gillibrand focuses message on women’s rights and money in politics

For Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the source of many of the country’s ills can be traced back to big money in politics.

The role of outsized campaign contributions was a theme that ran through a two-hour debate where she was punchy in her messaging, keeping to a streamlined set of talking points as some other candidates received more airtime.

During her key moments in Thursday’s Democratic debate, the New York senator hammered on her plan to create a system of publicly funded elections — “clean elections” as she calls them.

“I have the most comprehensive approach, that experts agree is the most transformative plan to actually take on political corruption,” she said. “If we do that and get money out of politics, we can guarantee healthcare as a right, not a privilege, we can deal with institutional racism, and we can take on the corporate corruption that runs Washington.”

The 52-year-old also hammered her message of supporting women’s and family issues.

“Women’s reproductive rights are under assault by President Trump and the Republican Party,” she said. “Thirty states are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade right now. And it is mind-boggling to me that we are debating on this stage in 2019 among Democrats whether women should have access to reproductive rights. I think we should stop playing defense and start playing offense.”

She also listed as a top priority the passage of a “family bill of rights” that would include a national paid family leave plan, universal pre-K and affordable daycare.

Gillibrand cast herself as having a centrist mind-set on positions she shares with fellow Democrats. On healthcare, she wants to use competition to steer the market toward a Medicare-for-all system.

“I believe we need to get to universal healthcare as a right and not a privilege to single payer,” she said. “The quickest way you get there is you create competition with the insurers. God bless the insurers, if they want to compete, they can certainly try, but they’ve never put people over their profits, and I doubt they ever will.”