Democratic U.S. Senator Gillibrand to launch 2020 White House bid

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Jan 15 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand told CBS' "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" that she would file paperwork on Tuesday night to explore a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 election.

Colbert, during the taping of an episode that will air on Tuesday night, asked Gillibrand, who has been taking the steps to begin a presidential campaign, if she had anything she would like to announce.

"Yes," the lawmaker from New York said. "I'm filing an exploratory committee for president of the United States tonight."

The formation of an exploratory committee will allow Gillibrand, 52, who is known for spearheading efforts to change how Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment and became a prominent voice in the #MeToo movement, to begin fundraising and organizing her campaign.

31 PHOTOS
Kirsten Gillibrand through the years
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Kirsten Gillibrand through the years
ALBANY, NEW YORK - JANUARY 23: U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) looks on during a news conference announcing her as New York Gov. David A. Paterson's choice to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat for New York on January 23, 2009 in Albany, New York. Caroline Kennedy withdrew her name from consideration a day before the announcement of the Governor's decision for filling the seat which was left vacant by the new Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: New York Governor David Paterson announces New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to replaces Senator Hillary Clinton. at the State Capitol. (Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JANUARY 25: Senator-designate Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) greets media after a lunch meeting with New York Gov. David A. Paterson, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on January 25, 2009 in New York City. Gov. Paterson appointed Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Clinton on January 23 in Albany, New York. Gillibrand is expected to be sworn in this week to serve in the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand takes her seat during testimony by former US Vice President Al Gore during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on 'Addressing Global Climate Change: The Road to Copenhagen' on January 28, 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/ TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 18: First lady Michelle Obama and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg are joined by Met Museum President Emily Rafferty, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and Rep. Charles Rangel at the ribbon cutting ceremony to officially re-open the Charles Engelhard Court, centerpiece of the newly renovated American Wing, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 18, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) attends the 2009 Puerto Rican Day Parade on the streets of Manhattan on June 14, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 13: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, makes an opening statement at the confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, July 13, 2009. Democratic and Republican senators debated Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court as she prepared to make her own case for confirmation to the Senate committee today. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: New York State Senator Kirsten Gillibrand attends the 9th annual Greater New York Human Rights Campaign Gala at The Waldorf Astoria on February 6, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 3: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (R) prepares to participate in a press conference in front of the United Nations addressing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the city May 3, 2010 in New York City. Ahmadinejad visited the UN to attend a conference on nuclear non-proliferation. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 02: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks to supporters on election night at the Sheraton New York November 2, 2010 in New York City. Gillibrand defeated Republican challenger Joseph DioGuardi. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Moderator David Gregory appear on 'Meet the Press' Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at the NBC studios in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Stephen J. Boitano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MARCH 16: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reads papers in the hallway before a news conference on gay marriage on Capitol Hill on March 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. Gillibrand and sixteen other Democrats introduced a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - MARCH 16: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) listens during a news conference on gay marriage on Capitol Hill on March 16, 2011 in Washington, DC. Gillibrand and sixteen other Democrats introduced a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
HEMPSTEAD, NY - DECEMBER 02: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand attends Lifetime Television's 2012 'Every Woman Counts' campaign at Hofstra University on December 2, 2011 in Hempstead, New York. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for A&E)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (L) speaks as Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) listens during a news conference on the STOCK Act February 2, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the amendments and the passage of the bill this afternoon. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) attends a press conference organized by the group Iran180 to denounce Iranian President Ahmadinejad?s upcoming speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2012 in New York City. A group of elected officials and community leaders spoke outside United Nations headquarters and called for U.N. action against the Iranian regime. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
WOODBURY, NY - OCTOBER 18: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (L) and former Vice President Dick Cheney pose for photographs following Cheney's appearance at the Long Island Association fall luncheon at the Crest Hollow Country Club on October 18, 2012 in Woodbury, New York. Cheney discussed foreign and domestic issues, including the upcoming presidential election, at the business organization's luncheon. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 16: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference in the Capitol on legislation that would create a new process for reviewing cases of military sexual assault and alleviate victims' fear of reporting an incident. Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., also appear. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
9/19/13- Capitol Hill- Washington DC Caroline Kennedy goes before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for questioning as they determine if she will be the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan.Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York backed Caroline. photo: Christy Bowe - ImageCatcher News (Photo by ImageCatcher News Service/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: United States Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand speaks at the TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 most influential people in the world at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TIME)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington DC Wednesday July 16, 2014. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 09: US Senator of New York Kirsten Gillibrand speaks onstage during 'Disrupting Politics' at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 9, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, listens to a speaker during a press conference to announce a new medical marijuana bill at the US Capitol on March 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
(R-L) US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and US Senator Schumer attend the 14th Anniversary ceremony of the terrorist attacks at the 9/11 memorial on September 11, 2015 in New York. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 25: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) walks on stage to deliver remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 493 -- Pictured: (l-r) Senator Kirsten Gillibrand during an interview with host Seth Meyers on February 21, 2017 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE VIEW - Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) is the guest, Monday, May 8, 2017 on ABC's 'The View.' 'The View' airs Monday-Friday (11:00 am-12:00 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats, 'Dreamers' and university presidents and chancellors to call for passage of the Dream Act at the U.S. Capitol October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and has asked Congress to find a solution for the status of the beneficiaries of the program, called 'Dreamers.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, speaks during the Women's Convention in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. The Women's Convention will bring together first time activists and movement leaders, rising political stars that reflect our nation's changing demographics, and thousands of women for a weekend of workshops, strategy sessions, and inspiring forums. Photographer: Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, listens during a news conference unveiling bipartisan legislation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Seven female U.S. senators called on fellow Democrat�Al Franken�to resign Wednesday following allegations, and his admission in at least one case, that he groped or sexually harassed women. His office said he will make an announcement on Thursday. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, speaks during a news conference unveiling bipartisan legislation to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Seven female U.S. senators called on fellow Democrat�Al Franken�to resign Wednesday following allegations, and his admission in at least one case, that he groped or sexually harassed women. His office said he will make an announcement on Thursday. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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"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," Gillibrand said to applause.

She has hired several top political aides in recent weeks, fueling speculation her jump into the 2020 fray was imminent.

There is no dominant early front-runner in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic nominating race to take on President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

Texas Democrat Julian Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and top U.S. housing official, formally launched his White House bid on Saturday. Former U.S. Representative John Delaney has been running for more than a year. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formed an exploratory committee last month and Representative Tulsi Gabbard said Friday that she will run for president.

Some in the party believe an establishment figure who can appeal to centrist voters is the way to victory. Others argue a fresh face, and particularly a diverse one, is needed to energize the party's increasingly left-leaning base.

Gillibrand was a member of the centrist and fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition while in the House of Representatives. Her positions became more liberal after she was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton in New York when Clinton became former President Barack Obama's secretary of state.

Gillibrand then won the seat in a special election and was re-elected to six-year terms in 2012 and 2018. She has attributed the ideology shift to representing a liberal state versus a more conservative district.

As a senator, Gillibrand was outspoken about rape in the military and campus sexual assault years before the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault first arose in 2017.

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People who might run against Trump in 2020
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People who might run against Trump in 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Sen. Kamala Davis (D-Calif.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (D)

(Photo by: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

(Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

(Photo credit MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro

(Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

(Photo credit ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick

(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

(Photo by James Keivom/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Environmental activist Tom Steyer

(Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton 

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

(Photo by Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

(Photo credit FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

(Photo credit should read JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)

(Photo credit TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

California Gov. Jerry Brown

(Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Caruso )

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey

(Photo by Moeletsi Mabe/Sunday Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean

(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Former Vice President Al Gore

(Photo credit DAVID MCNEW/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.)

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

(Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images,)

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)

(Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool via Bloomberg

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Michael Bloomberg

(Christopher Smith/Invision/AP)

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In late 2017, as she pushed for a bill changing how Congress processes and settles sexual harassment allegations made by staffers, some prominent party leaders criticized her for being the first Democratic senator to urge the resignation of Senator Al Franken, who was accused of groping and kissing women without their consent.

During the same period, Gillibrand said Hillary Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, should have resigned from the White House after his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment by the House. Some criticized the senator for attacking the Clintons, who had supported her political career.

Gillibrand backs a Medicare-for-all bill championed by Democratic Party liberals. She was the first senator to call in June 2018 for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) amid controversy over Trump's separation of families entering the country at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I believe healthcare should be a right and not a privilege," Gillibrand told Colbert.

In a dig at Trump, Gillibrand said the first thing she would do if elected to the White House is "restore what's been lost" like the "integrity and compassion of this country."

"You have to start by restoring what’s been lost, restoring our leadership in the world, addressing things like global climate change and being that beacon of light and hope in the world,"Gillibrand said.

Trump and Gillibrand have sparred publicly in the past. In December 2017, the president targeted her with a sexually tinged tweet, calling her a "total flunky" who had "come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)."

Gillibrand shot back immediately on Twitter.

"You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office," she wrote.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker in Washington and Daniel Trotta in New York Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Jonathan Oatis and James Dalgleish)

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