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8 things to know about Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand is a New York Times best-selling author and human rights advocate.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced she is running

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced she is running for president during an appearance Tuesday night on the "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."   Photo Credit: Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced she is launching an exploratory presidential campaign committee Tuesday during a taping of the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own. . .,” she said, adding that she wants better public school education, health care and job training for the middle class.

A born and raised New Yorker, Gillibrand has served New York since 2006. Her career in politics began after she won a U.S. House seat over incumbent John Sweeney. In 2009, she was appointed to take Hillary Clinton’s place as a U.S. senator so that Clinton could become secretary of state. The 52-year-old mom of two then secured her seat in a special election in 2010 and has since been re-elected twice.

Gillibrand joins fellow Democrats Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in the race to oust President Donald Trump from the White House.

Here are eight facts about Gillibrand to keep in mind as she begins her 2020 presidential bid:

  • Before getting her law degree from the University of California in Los Angeles, Gillibrand majored in Asian studies at Dartmouth College. She learned Mandarin and studied abroad in China with actress and then-roommate Connie Britton, The New York Times reported. For her senior project, she researched Tibetan refugees and even interviewed the Dalai Lama.
  • Born on Dec. 9, 1966, she has the same birthday as actors Kirk Douglas and John Malkovich, and computer science pioneer Grace Hopper.
  • Gillibrand became tied to politics through her grandmother, Polly Noonan, who was a secretary in the New York State Legislature and a close friend of Albany’s former Mayor Erastus Corning. Her mother, Polly Rutnik, leaned into the political ties, as she attended law school and took her New York Bar character exam only a few days before giving birth to Gillibrand.
  • In 2014, Time Magazine named her in its list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World, alongside Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé, Edward Snowden, Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Gillibrand has worked on and supported a number of human rights issues, including the STOCK Act, repealing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act and the Military Justice Improvement Act. She has also advocated for women’s access to affordable reproductive health care, immigration reform to help individuals gain citizenship, a “Medicare-For-All” health care system, social security, and a national medical family leave program.
  • Gillibrand has said she met her husband, Jonathan Gillibrand, on a blind date while he was attending business school at Columbia University. He is originally from Britain and is a venture capitalist.
  • As if being a politician and mother did not fill up her schedule enough, Gillibrand published a memoir in 2015 that made it to the No. 8 spot on The New York Times’ hardcover nonfiction bestseller list. Her memoir, “Off the Sidelines: Speak Up, Be Fearless and Change Your World,” speaks to issues as both a mother and politician, and includes a foreword by Hillary Clinton.
  • She became the first New York senator in almost 40 years to represent the state on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

With Yancey Roy and Nicole Brown

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