New York Democratic senator and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand discussed guns, abortion rights and border security in her town hall with Iowa voters Sunday on Fox News.
Gillibrand joins fellow Democratic presidential contenders Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, D-South Bend, in having gone on Fox News for town halls.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., decided against going on the network for a town hall, saying the network is a “hate-for-profit racket,” and Sen. Kamala Harris also declined to do a town hall on Fox News.
Subi Banerjee, an adjunct professor of finance and economics at the University of Dubuque, asked Gillibrand how she would reduce gun violence, specifically asking what plan the candidate has that could have prevented the Virginia Beach shooting which left 12 people dead Friday.
Gillibrand said the NRA has blocked many reforms she said would help prevent gun violence, such as universal background checks on gun purchases.
“Americans are feeling ripped apart by the gun deaths we have seen," Gillibrand said. "Year after year, month after month — we need to do something about it. I think the NRA is the worst organization in this country for [lobbying against gun control] — they care more about their profits than the American people.”
Susan Herrig, a retired pediatric nurse from Dubuque asked Gillibrand about her position on "late-term or last-trimester abortions."
Gillibrand began by thanking Herrig for her work “helping our babies, particularly our [prematurely born babies] who deeply need the medical care they have.”
“My view on women’s reproductive freedom is that it should be a woman’s decision to make these most intimate life and death decisions for themselves,” Gillibrand said. “A woman should be able to decide when she’s having children, how many children she’s having and under what circumstance she’s having [a child].”
Gillibrand went on to discuss what she said is Fox News’s roll in debate over abortion rights.
Fox News anchor and moderator of the town hall Chris Wallace said he wasn’t sure it was polite to “attack” the network that had invited her on for an hour.
“The debate about whether or not women should have reproductive freedom has turned into a red-herring debate," Gillibrand said. "What happens on Fox News is relevant, because they talked about infanticide for 6.5 hours right before President Trump’s state of the union — [Fox News hosts and guests] mentioned it 35 times.
“That is not the debate of what access to reproductive care is in this country. It doesn’t happen — it’s illegal, it’s not a fact.”
Gillibrand went on to say she supports Roe v. Wade, and she would try to codify it into law if elected president, and said she would only appoint justices to the United States Supreme Court who agree Roe v. Wade is settled precedent.
Tanner Hoag, a retired Army military policeman from Asbury, Iowa, asked Gillibrand about border security.
“Where do you stand today on border security, and what side of the wall are you on?” Hoag asked.
Gillibrand said she fully supports border security but that the Trump administration has been diverting border security funds to "other efforts — particularly for-profit prisons that are locking up mothers and children."
Gillibrand said as president she would implement comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for immigrants already in the United States and would fully fund border security, anti-terrorism work and anti-trafficking work “that is being underfunded right now.”
Wallace asked Gillibrand about a tweet in which she said our future is female, intersectional and powered by our belief in one another.
“I was so inspired by the 2018 election, those 120 women who ran in the red and purple places across the country,” Gillibrand said. “We want women to have a seat at the table.”
Wallace asked Gillibrand if men have a place at the table in the future.
“They’re already there, do you not know?” Gillibrand said to laughter and applause.
Wallace asked the New York senator if she would qualify for the first Democratic presidential primary debate stage later this month.
“I qualify on polling, and to guarantee my spot I need to get a few more donors,” Gillibrand said.
Democratic National Committee (DNC) rules say in order to qualify for a spot on the debate stage June 26-27, a candidate needs to have polled at least 1% in three DNC-approved polls or have received 65,000 unique donations and at least 200 unique donors from at least 20 different states.
A Morning Consult poll of the Democratic primary found Gillibrand with 1% support nationally among likely Democratic primary voters.