Gillibrand Annoyed by Question About Immigration ‘Reversal’

'I've answered this question about a dozen times'

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) often has to answer questions about her significant flip-flop on illegal immigration, and she expressed irritation about it in an interview Tuesday.

CNN host Poppy Harlow recounted Gillibrand's past restrictionist stance on immigration when she was in the House of Representatives. As a representative, Gillibrand opposed amnesty and called securing the southern border a national security priority.

Gillibrand joined her fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls last month saying she didn't think unauthorized border crossings should be a criminal offense.

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"It's a dramatic reversal. Why such a change of heart?" Harlow asked.

"Well, Poppy, I've answered this question about a dozen times, including on your network," Gillibrand said. "Ten years ago, I became senator for the entire state of New York, and I not only had the humility to recognize my positions were wrong, but I had the courage to lead from a new position and I've been leading on those issues for over a decade."

She later said the U.S. needed a president who "has the humility to recognize when they're wrong" and can "change their positions."

"That's who I am, and I have the courage to actually lead from a better position and have been doing so for over a decade," she said.

Gillibrand has in the past blamed her immigration positions on the whiteness of the district she represented in Congress.

"I came from a district that was 98 percent white. We have immigrants, but not a lot of immigrants," she told 60 Minutes last year. "I hadn't really spent the time to hear those kind of stories about what's it like to worry that your dad could be taken away at any moment."

Gillibrand, now one of the most liberal members of the Senate, has apologized repeatedly for her old views but still struggled to shake questions about them during her bid for the Democratic nomination. She's also gone from being an ally of the National Rifle Association to calling it the "worst organization in this country."

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow introduced Gillibrand before an interview in January this way: "She has been on her own party's right. She has been on her own party's left."

Gillibrand went on CNN in part to promote her upcoming Rust Belt tour, where she'll attack President Donald Trump over what she calls broken promises to those who voted for him in 2016.