U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand said Friday she isn't prepared to make a decision now on whether to run for president.
“I definitely think about how I can help New Yorkers and how I can be successful in getting more things done in Washington," Gillibrand said. "But, aspiring to a higher office is a very big decision. That’s why I’m not prepared to make it right now.”
“I can think about it later," Gillibrand said during a meeting Friday with editors and reporters at The Buffalo News.
But Gillibrand stopped short of saying she wouldn't run, despite a statement during a Thursday night debate that she would serve her six-year Senate term if elected.
“I’m really running for Senate," Gillibrand said Friday in Buffalo. "I’m focused on my Senate race, and it’s important to serve in the Senate for New York, and there’s a lot of work still to be done in the Senate."
Gillibrand's statements during the debate drew criticism from her Republican opponent, Chele Farley, who pressed Gillibrand on Friday to be more specific.
“Be straight with New Yorkers: Are you running for president or not?” Farley said in a statement issued by her campaign. “New Yorkers deserve to know if they are voting to elect a senator who will be working for them full time or will it be a part-time job.”
Recent polls showed Gillibrand with an almost two-to-one lead over Farley with less than two weeks until Election Day.
Gillibrand said she is seeking re-election to the Senate to focus on economic issues for New York, including national paid leave, workforce training, educational opportunities and guaranteed health care.
Gillibrand served two years as a congresswoman in the House before she was appointed to her current position in the Senate in 2009, filling then Sen. Hillary Clinton's seat when Clinton was named Secretary of State by President Barack Obama.
Gillibrand said the focus for her and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been bringing federal funding back to New York State. If elected, Gillibrand said that will continue to be a top goal.
She touched on a range of issues during her meeting in Buffalo Friday, including:
- Increasing manufacturing jobs in upstate New York.
- Infrastructure investments, like broadband internet, in rural areas.
- Legislation that eases burdens on dairy farmers.
- Changing the profits-first approach to health care and big pharma.
- Eliminating the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Gillibrand also said she is focused on continuing to work on bipartisan legislation, citing "14 wins" on bills working with Republican senators that included working with Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker on STEM education, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on a new Congressional policy governing sexual harassment and others to get the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission Act passed in 2017.
The final item led Gillibrand to promote the Nov. 13 release of her children's book about the suffrage movement, "Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote."
Several of those in the book — including Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth — are from New York, Gillibrand pointed out.
"That's just a small thing, but it's something I'm excited about," Gillibrand said.