Democratic US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Tuesday January 15th she is running for president. Gillibrand is an outspoken Donald Trump critic and champion of women's issues including the #MeToo movement.
The battle for the White House is already firming up, 22 months before the 2020 election, as Americans begin to assess who might be the opposition party nominee to challenge Trump.
Four Democrats, three of them women, have announced they are taking serious steps towards 2020 presidential election campaigns in recent weeks. And many more including several of Gillibrand's Senate colleagues, an anti-Trump billionaire businessman and former vice president Joe Biden are waiting in the wings.
"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 - which is why I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege," the senator told Stephen Colbert on his CBS television late night talk show.
Gillibrand will put gender at the fore of her campaign, combatting "institutional racism," taking on special interests and entrenched systems of power in Washington, and fighting against political "corruption and greed."
"I know that I have the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination to get that done," she added.
The 52-year-old from upstate New York said she was forming an exploratory committee, a crucial legal step for a candidate to run for president, just days before she reportedly travels to the early voting state of Iowa.
Colbert asked her if an exploratory committee ever turns around and just says no, don't run for president. Is it a formality?
"Well, it's an important first step. But it's one I'm taking because I am going to run," Gillibrand answered.
She blamed Trump for the government shutdown, and his drive for money to build a wall on the border with Mexico, saying, "he shouldn't be having a temper tantrum because he can't get what he wants."
Trump should talk to both parties about his vision for immigration reform, she added. "Shutting down the government is hurting people. Right now he's doing it because he wants his way."
Gillibrand took to social media Tuesday to amplify her message. "We have to rise up and reclaim our values," she tweeted.
"We need to protect our basic rights and fight for better health care, education and jobs. And I believe I'm the woman for the job," she said, adding that she is "not afraid to take on Trump."
In 2009, Gillibrand was appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's US Senate seat, when the latter became secretary of state. She was easily re-elected in November to her second full term.
The next presidential election is still more than 650 days away but Gillibrand is entering what will be a chockablock field vying for the right to challenge Trump.