Many New York politicians are in Charlotte for the convention, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Instead of trying to court the New York delegates, she spent her time speaking to the Iowa delegation. But all week, that delegation has been courted by potential candidates for 2016 and she insists she’s not one of them. Our Bobby Cuza has more.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kirsten Gillibrand is absolutely, positively not running for president.
“Are you open to it, if people were to encourage you to run?” someone asked.
Gillibrand replied, “No.”
There was certainly good reason to wonder. Thursday, in an eyebrow-raising move, Gillibrand visited the delegation from Iowa, which holds the first in the nation caucuses every four years and sounded a lot like a presidential hopeful, introducing herself to Iowa voters and heaping praise on the Hawkeye State, among the first, she noted, to permit gay marriage.
"We would not have repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell if Iowa didn't go first and actually assure marriage equality for every person in your state," Gillibrand said.
Of all the functions going on in and around the Democratic convention in Charlotte, this tent in a hotel parking may be the spot to be for Democrats with an eye on 2012. Here, every day over breakfast, Iowans have heard from potential candidates testing the waters.
Thursday, it was Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Earlier in the week, the Iowans hosted Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"There are some that I know for a fact have an aspiration to run. And that's why they're here," said Danny Homan, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President.
"I think they're all exploring what it is like to run for president and this is one of the stops," said Iowa delegate Andy Block.
Gillibrand made a clear connection with the crowd.
"I watched that crowd. They know her. She’s so genuine and so real," said Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky.
"She was obviously very comfortable in this environment and I think everybody, everybody loved her," said Norm Sterzenback, Iowa Democratic Party Executive Director.
Still, she insists she has another candidate in mind for 2016.
"I am going to be the chairperson of Hillary Clinton 2016 fan club,” Gillibrand said.
“Absolutely would not consider it?” a reporter asked.
“No. I'm hoping that Secretary Clinton runs," Gillibrand replied.
Clinton has indicated she won't run. Another possible candidate, Vice President Joe Biden, hasn't ruled it out. And there's someone else Gillibrand says would make a great president: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was also in Charlotte Thursday, though keeping a low profile, far from the Iowans.