In her first major speech in New York City since becoming New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand looked out onto a room of business leaders gathered at the Hilton this morning, and began talking about her mother, grandmother and then, seemingly her entire life story.
“She was introducing herself, literally,” said one person in the audience.
Another audience member who attended the breakfast speech, hosted by the Association for a Better New York, said Gillibrand’s remarks were a bit too broad–she talked at one point about developing hybrid vehicles on the West Coast, and then about making sure Wall Street remains the financial engine for the country.
Gillibrand at times presented herself as the singular embodiment of New York’s diversity–reminding people she worked for 15 years as a securities lawyer, but has spent time upstate, with real life farmers.
“Obviously I read The New York Times this morning,” Gillibrand said at one point, before launching into an explanation about how New York would benefit from the federal stimulus bill, which she said she supported.
Speaking about the environment and global warming, Gillibrand said, “These are very serious issues, and if folks you talk to don’t believe in it, you just have to look around.” Or, she said, “ask a hunter from upstate New York. They’ll tell you.”
New York City, she said, needed to protect its financial service industry, while other parts of New York needed to develop manufacturing jobs geared towards conservation and new energy markets. She said tax breaks for companies in the new energy markets shouldn’t be doled out in three-year increments, but for 10 years at a time, giving business people more time to plan, she said.
American farmers also needed protection, she said, because “if we outsource all our food production to the lowest cost producers, something like China, what we’ll see is what we see in the paper where baby formula are poisoned because people want to make money.”
In a scrum with reporters afterward, Gillibrand said her vote against the bailout under Bush is rooted in the same principals that are leading her to vote for the new stimulus package.
When asked about the State Senate balking at vote on gay marriage, Gillibrand called it “disappointing,” and said, “Whether it’s visiting loved ones in the hospital, benefits for social security, benefits for adoption, all kinds of things that straight couples are able to receive, gay couples should be able to receive.”
“Now,” she added. “The question is, then, what about gay marriage? I think the state should decide what to do about how to call it–you know–what name to give it.”