Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), who often touts her former representation of a majority Republican district, expressed scorn Monday for family members who supported Donald Trump.
Gillibrand told the Washington Post‘s Robert Costa she was different from other 2020 Democratic candidates because she had a "sensibility and an understanding" about how rural, Republican voters see the world.
"I hate to admit this fact, but I have uncles who voted for Trump," she said in the next breath, theatrically sighing before continuing to discuss her push for universal health insurance.
Gillibrand first was elected to her upstate New York district in 2006, although at the time she held conservative views on guns and illegal immigration. She has renounced those positions since entering the U.S. Senate in 2009, but continued to boast of her ability to appeal to voters across the political spectrum.
When Costa brought up her family again, Gillibrand cut him off.
"I have not spoken to them about it, so I cannot tell you why. I'm still angry," Gillibrand said, smiling. "And I didn't find out from him, by the way. I found out from my cousin, because she was at an event with me. She was like, ‘Well, you know, I’m talking to my dad about it,' and I was like, ‘What?' And she tells me this, and I said, ‘That can't be true.' They knew how much I loved Hillary. That can't be true."
Now one of the most liberal members of Congress, Gillibrand has placed some of the onus for her past conservatism on her district. She called it "98 percent white" and said she only had the "lens of upstate New York" when called out for her flip-flops last year on 60 Minutes.
A corporate lawyer in the 1990s, she rose in politics as a devotee of Hillary Clinton, assisting on her successful 2000 U.S. Senate run. She praised the Clintons again on Monday, in spite of her past remarks that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency over his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Gillibrand, who is in danger of missing the third round of debates next month in Houston, told Costa she would be open to being a running mate for the eventual 2020 nominee.