At a town hall meeting in the alumni center, Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand struck a defiant tone in her rebuke of the Trump administration policies. While Gillibrand fielded questions from the audience, the town hall was hosted by former tenth district representative, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and Keene State College alumni Molly Kelly.
“She will continue to work for all families in America,” Kelly said in her opening remarks of Gillibrand. Kelly also stressed Gillibrand’s help in a campaign for paid family medical leave.
The event was set up by the American Democracy Project, a nationwide program made of over 250 colleges whose goal is to “produce college and university graduates who are equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences they need to be informed, engaged members of their communities,” according to their official website.
The campus director of the American Democracy Project Kim Schmidl-Gagne said the purpose of the talks were “to give students at Keene State the opportunity to meet the folks up close and personal, to see that their votes do make a difference,” said Schmidl-Gagne.
Gillibrand spoke of progressive issues and solutions at the town hall. However, a decade ago while running for the 20th district of New York, Gillibrand advocated for a more hardline immigration stance like cutting aid to sanctuary cities and opposing immigration reform. Her view on gun rights has also changed.
Now she advocates for immigration reform and talks negatively of the Trump administration’s stance on immigration and proudly talks of her NRA rating of an F, an almost badge of honor among democrats.
Also in attendance via a live stream were students from Weber State, who asked about Gillibrand’s history with gun rights. “In my rural upstate New York district where it was two to one Republican, the issue of gun violence wasn’t a prevalent priority for the district, it wasn’t an issue that was at the forefront of the folks that I represented minds,” Gillibrand said. According to Gillibrand, when she became a senator the issue of gun violence became more front and center for her as she new represented the whole of New York State. “I should have cared more and I should’ve had the wisdom to know that you need to care about people and places, other than where you live,” Gillibrand said.
A defining moment of the town hall occurred when a former Keene State professor asked the Senator if she thought the Me Too movement had gone too far and in some cases had unintended consequences. Gillibrand defiantly and unapologetically disagreed and said of the former Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations, that she did not regret calling for his resignation.
Gillibrand spoke of creating a not-for-profit public option for insurance that would then transition into a single payer system. “Let any American buy into medicare at a price they can afford,” Gillibrand said. According to Gillibrand, once most Americans buy into this program it will turn it essentially a single payer system. “I believe healthcare should be a right, not a privilege, and what that means to me is you have to stop making healthcare a commodity,” Gillibrand said.
When asked how she will combat poverty ,Gillibrand talked of how while New Hampshire does have relatively low unemployment, it has high underemployment. “I think we need to use our community colleges, our state schools, our apprenticeship programs and our not-for-profits to provide job training for anyone who feels they are underemployed or unemployed,” Gillibrand said.
“I think she was comprehensive and thoughtful and I generally support the kind of positions she has,” said a community member in attendance , Don Bartlett. “This last speech she gave set the tone for why she should be given more consideration as a candidate.”
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