Gillibrand 'embarrassed' by previous positions
Feb. 12--ALBANY -- In a "60 Minutes" profile that aired Sunday evening, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's tried to explain the significant leftward shifts in her positions on gun control and immigration that followed her 2009 appointment to the Senate.
Gillirband -- who attended Dartmouth College and UCLA Law School before spending a decade as a litigator in Manhattan -- attributed her more conservative prior positions to the conservative and overwhelmingly white demographic of the 20th Congressional District, which first elected her to the House in 2006.
Gillibrand's initial stance on gun control earned her an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association; it was downgraded to an "F" in 2010, a year after Gillibrand was appointed by then-Gov. David Paterson to take the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton's appointment to serve as President Barack Obama's secretary of state.
"A few years ago, you said, 'It has nothing to do with hunting. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment,'" CBS reporter Sharyn Alfonsi said to Gillibrand. "So why the 180?"
"After I got appointed (to the Senate), I went down to Brooklyn to meet with families who had suffered from gun violence in their communities," Gillibrand said, according to the "60 Minutes" transcript. "And you immediately experience the feeling that I couldn't have been more wrong -- you know, I only had the lens of upstate New York."
"But you had lived in New York City for a decade," Alfonsi said.
"And that's why I was embarrassed," Gillibrand said. " ... I was wrong. What it's about is the power of the NRA and the greed of that industry. Let's be clear. It is not about hunters' rights, it's about money."
Alfonsi said, "Your critics will say it's political opportunism."
"As is their right. They can say what they like," Gillibrand said.
When Gillibrand was elected to the House in 2006 and 2008, the 20th District included Columbia, Greene, Warren and Washington counties as well as chunks of Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Otsego, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties.
Alfonsi noted that the senator's earlier stance on immigration "was closer to Donald Trump's than today's Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand."
"You were against amnesty, against sanctuary cities," Alfonsi said. "You supported accelerated deportations. You become senator -- why the flip?"
"I came from a district that was 98 percent white," Gillibrand said. "We have immigrants, but not a lot of immigrants. ... And I just didn't take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn't right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I'm embarrassed about and I'm ashamed of."
Businesswoman and Republican fundraiser Chele Farley, who recently announced her plan to run against Gillibrand, was a fan of at least this section of the "60 Minutes" profile, as well as Alfonsi's questions about Gillibrand's recent opinion that Bill Clinton should have resigned from office after his affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light:
"Great job by 60 minutes exposing @SenGillibrand flip flops on Bill Clinton, gun control immigration," Farley said in a Tweet.
The profile also delved into Gillibrand's role in addressing sexual abuse and other forms of gender-based misconduct, from the workplace and the military to college campuses. It also discussed her pedigree as a member of a family whose connections to Albany politics reaches back to the era of Mayor Erastus Corning II.