She won by 33 points. Eighteen days later:
I’m wrestling with my own anti-Gillibrand bias in trying to decide how much to fault her for this. Does it bug me so much because I already didn’t like her, seeing her as an unusually cynical, weaselly politician even by Washington standards, or does it bug me because it really is an unusually brazen lie even by the usual “I’m not running for president” standards? It’s not like she’s the first pol to have a change of heart about running for the White House. The day after he was elected to the Senate in 2004, Barack Obama all but ruled out running for president in 2008. He reconsidered. Voters forgave him. They know how this game is played.
In Gillibrand’s case, though, the question is this: Why even bother to play? If she were running in a purple state, with a two-point lead, admitting to presidential ambitions during a Senate debate might have been enough to sink her. Swing voters would calculate that they were better off with the candidate whom they knew would hold the office for all six years; a bald-faced lie about serving out a full term would at least be understandable under those circumstances, if not honorable. But Gillibrand was always going to win in deep-blue New York, and win big. Other 2020 hopefuls in the same position were candid about their ambitions: When Bernie Sanders was asked last month if he’d serve his full six years if reelected to the Senate, he declined to promise to do so.
“Right now, my focus is on the year 2018, but if you’re asking me to make an absolute pledge as to whether I’ll be running for president or not, I’m not going to make that pledge. The simple truth is I have not made that decision. But I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I may not run. I may. But on the other hand, I may not,” he said at a forum Monday night in Vermont.
He won by 40 points. There’s no need to lie when you’re headed for a landslide. Voters are big boys and girls about these things. And the weirdest part with Gillibrand is that her intentions haven’t been a secret. She’s been positioning to run for president for a year at least. As noted in the first clip, she didn’t spend money on her Senate race this year because she obviously has another purpose for her war chest in mind. So why didn’t she just give the Bernie answer at the debate? “I’m not thinking about 2020, I’m thinking about what New Yorkers need right now,” yadda yadda. Her promise to serve her full term made news precisely because it was such an obvious lie, which makes it a form of political malpractice, however minor. Takeaway: Gillibrand will lie straight to your face, even when you both know she’s lying, even when she doesn’t need to. You can’t trust her. If the previous 40 illustrations of that weren’t enough to convince you, maybe the 41st will.
I think she’ll end up keeping her promise. With 32 candidates for Democrats to choose from, it’s unimaginable that she won’t get trounced in the primaries.
Compiled a list of the at least 32 potential and/or likely 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. This is going to be a full-on three ring circus pic.twitter.com/CmCceDayYG
— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) November 12, 2018