Kirsten Gillibrand takes questions at CNN town hall

By Veronica Rocha and Brian Ries, CNN

Updated 1:23 a.m. ET, April 10, 2019
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1:23 a.m. ET, April 10, 2019

Inside the Green Room with Kirsten Gillibrand

Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand just chatted with CNN and answered a few questions after tonight's town hall.

We asked her five, simple questions so voters can get to know her better.

Here's what she said:

CNN: What's one thing about you that surprises people?

Gillibrand: "One thing that surprises people about me is that I used to speak Chinese."

CNN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Gillibrand: "Never give up. Be brave. Be bold. Believe in yourself."

CNN: What’s your favorite movie and why?

Gillibrand: "Wonder Woman 'cause she's kick-ass and she's strong and bold and brave and never gives up."

CNN: What three issues do we have to deal with right now?

Gillibrand: "A lot — global climate change, making sure we have health care as a right not a privilege, making sure people who want to be working or underemployed or unemployed have a job. Full employment."

CNN: Name one thing that makes you different than all the other 2020 Democratic candidates.

Gillibrand: "Well I have a very different story and I come from a rural part of a state as diverse as New York. I won a 2 to 1 Republican district twice and then I brought my whole state together with the highest vote total at 72% and bring people together in Congress all the time. I actually pass a lot of legislation big bills like 9/11 health bill and "Don't ask, don't tell" repeal and small bills like the 18 bills that passed in the last Congress, like more money for rural broadband or more money for manufacturing."

11:43 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Gillibrand on her faith: "I define myself by my faith. It centers me."

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was asked Tuesday night about her faith, specifically where it fit in the Democratic Party and if there is room for a religious left.

"Perfect question for me," she answered. "I go to two Bible studies a week and a prayer breakfast. And so my faith is really important to me."

She added that Democrats are better on some Christian principles than Republicans:

"I think anyone should be able to have faith, whether they're ultraconservative or liberal. And if you're coming from a Christian perspective, I would say the gospel doesn't leave anybody out. Because are you feeding the poor? Are you helping the sick? Are you visiting the incarcerated? Do you believe in helping the least among us? Do you believe in the golden rule? Do you treat others the way you want to be treated? I would argue the Democrats are often better on those issues than Republicans. So there's no reason you can't be a person of any faith in any political party."

When she was asked if she ever felt like being a person of faith in the Democratic Party was "odd," since conservatives in the Republican party tend to be more outspoken in their religious beliefs, she answered, "No."

"I define myself by my faith. It centers me. It's something that is one of the reasons why I'm running for president," she said.

11:11 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Should the voting age be lowered? Here's what Gillibrand said

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she doesn't know if the voting age should be lowered.

"I don't know. I really don't know. I like the idea of it because we want to inspire more young people. But I like the fact that when you turn 18, you earn this right. It's a special right. It's a right of passage. It's also the time when you're independent of your parents as a matter of law. So I like the simplicity of 18," she said.

Gillibrand went on to say she would think about it.

11:05 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Gillibrand greets audience during the break

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand took a few moments to shake hands and talk to voters during the commercial breaks.

Check out the moment:

11:02 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Gillibrand casts her record on guns from a conservative NY district as a benefit, not a flaw

From CNN's Dan Merica

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand argued on Tuesday that the fact she once held an A-rating with the National Rifle Association makes her better equipped to talk to gun owners about the need for gun control.

Gillibrand, a mother of two, also said the way to reach conservatives on this issue is to make it about family and children.

“I think I can walk into any voter in a red state or a purple state or a blue state, gun owners, NRA members, and say, you do care about a four-year-old dying on a park bench in Brooklyn, don’t you,” Gillibrand said. “And the humanity of each person in this country should kick in.”

She added: “And you are going to ask them to imagine that happening to their own child, their own loved one, and their own family. And I think you can change hearts that way.”

Gillibrand said earlier this year that she was “embarrassed” by her past positions on guns. She began to changed her position after she became a senator and met with Jennifer Pryear and Alberto Yard, the parents of Nyasia Pryear-Yard, a young woman who was killed in a 2009 shooting in Brooklyn.

“So, I had an A-rating as a House member,” she said in Iowa earlier this year. “I only really looked at guns through the lens of hunting. My mother still shoots the Thanksgiving turkey. But when I became senator, I recognized I had a lot to learn about my state and all of the 20 million I was going to represent.”

10:56 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Gillibrand on vaccines: We need to do a better job of educating parents about preventable diseases

Asked if she would support making vaccines mandatory, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she needed to think about it before answering, but she added that parents need more information on preventable diseases overall.

"I haven't thought about whether I would make it mandatory. I would need to think about that. But I do believe that parents need more information about why vaccines are so essential. Parents need to know that their child could die of preventable diseases, that they could spread a preventable disease and other children could die," she said.

Gillibrand said she thinks vaccines save lives and that parents are just afraid because of rumors and myths.

"I think parents have been afraid. I think they've been made afraid by rumors and myths and, you know, fake news. So I think that we need to do a much better job of educating parents about the essential nature of vaccines. It does save lives, and I will work as hard as I can to make sure that every parent knows that vaccines are absolutely necessary," she said.

10:50 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Gillibrand's son's advice before running for president? "Don't make any mistakes, mom"

When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand decided to enter the race, she said she sat down with her two sons over the holidays to go over the decision.

The New York Democrat said they told her, "Yeah, mom, this is really important." Her son, Theo and Henry, also gave advice.

"Don't make any mistakes, mom, and don't say the wrong words," Henry, told her.

She went on to say her sons have been "exceedingly encouraging and they believe in this mission."

10:49 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Here’s how Gillibrand would address health care

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand just heard from two members of the audience with health challenges who asked how she would negotiate the health care challenges Americans face. Does she support Medicare for All? Would she banish private health care companies? Here's what she said.

"I'm for Medicare for All, and I believe the best way to get there is let people buy in, and that's how we get to single payer over a very short transition, period," she said, laying out her support for the a key legislative priority that has pushed the Democratic party to the left both in Congress and the 2020 presidential primary.

She then added that "part of the corruption and greed in Washington" is traced directly to the "insurance industry as the middleman for health care."

"Because they don't necessarily care about which surgeries you need or which medicine you need or how many days in the hospitals you need," she added. "Ultimately they're for-profit companies, and they ever to care about their bottom line and their shareholders. I think that's the misalignment in health care today," she said.

And what for the private insurance companies?

"You have to see if they want to compete or not. I don't think they will... If the insurance industry wants to continue to participate to offer some kind of coverage for some kind of things, they'll have to compete for those customers. But if you let Americans choose basic medicare which is affordable, I don't see that most Americans wouldn't choose it," she explained.

10:46 p.m. ET, April 9, 2019

Gillibrand doesn’t think comments about Bill Clinton hurt her relationship with Hillary Clinton

From CNN's Dan Merica

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Tuesday that her comments that former President Bill Clinton should have resigned amid the Monica Lewinsky scandal did not cost her the close relationship she had with Hillary Clinton.

Gillibrand told the New York Times in 2017 that Bill Clinton’s resignation would have been “the appropriate response.”

“I don’t think so,” Gillibrand said when asked whether the comment cost her the bond she has with Hillary Clinton, someone the US senator from New York counts as a mentor.

Gillibrand went on to say that she has talked to Hillary Clinton about her 2020 run and that the former secretary of state has given her advice.

“Secretary Clinton is still a role model for all of us,” Gillibrand said. “My views on her husband is very different. And I’ve said all I’m going to say about that.”

Gillibrand added: “She’s somebody who I still admire and look up to, and she’s given a lot to this country.”

Hillary Clinton wrote the forward on Gillibrand’s memoir and Gillibrand went on to write that the former secretary of state changed her life by inspiring her to run.

“My commitment to Hillary was personal,” Gillibrand wrote.