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Spectacle Gillibrand enters the race

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been running for the Democratic nomination for president for several months, but last weekend she officially entered the race with an event meant to grab the attention of the news media and set her apart from the other candidates in the field.

Throughout her career she has been underestimated by journalists and fellow politicians. This probably stems from her youthful appearance and the fact that she was appointed to her seat in the U.S. Senate before winning two full terms on her own.

To combat perception, her campaign staged an announcement rally outside the Trump International Hotel, near Central Park and Columbus Circle, in New York City. There is no better way to elevate your reputation than by standing up to a bully - and no better person to serve that role than the president.

Gillibrand's campaign staff worked hard to manage the show.

In the hours before Gillibrand made her appearance the text of her remarks was provided to the news media, so everyone would know what she planned to say, and editors would see the news value.

At the core of her speech was the charge that Trump over-exposes us to his name and his brand, "because he wants you to think he is strong," but Gillibrand said, he is actually "a coward" who seeks to divide the country for his own benefit.

The symbolism of Gillibrand delivering these words in the shadow of one of Trump's signature buildings (and surrounded by the sky-scrapers of New York) was clearly an effort to highlight her own bravery. Being brave, was the theme of the day. The audience was urged to text "Brave" to her campaign to sign up to be part of the team.

As I have mentioned in previous reports, the Democratic candidates are searching for the best way to confront President Trump on the campaign trail. Some argue the only way to beat him is to play the game by his rough rules. Others say, a winning Democrat will ignore Trump's personality and draw a comparison based on the issues.

There are a few candidates, like Gillibrand, who argue Trump's behavior in and of itself, is an issue that must be challenged.

A crowd of about 2,000 filled the street. The security necessary to stage an event at this location added to the feeling of confrontation.

Even the most masterfully staged political spectacle can only be successful if there is no competing news to grab the headlines.

While Gillibrand's announcement - and accusation that the president is a coward - got national coverage, it was over-shadowed by news that the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was complete and that it found no collusion between Trump, his campaign, and the Russian government.

Gillibrand knew her announcement would be eclipsed by the Trump/Russia story as she took the stage, but the news did not alter her underlying message.

She was introduced by a series of speakers who described how they had been personally hurt by the policies of the Trump administration. Each told the crowd they had found a partner and advocate in Gillibrand and each argued in their own way that Gillibrand would use the presidency to fight for those who are otherwise powerless.

In a dark blue coat, set against an American flag, Gillibrand's event team managed to make her appear presidential.

Gillibrand's official entry into the presidential race took weeks to plan. In the end, it failed to give her the level of exposure she was hoping for before a wide national audience. But, for the audience of Democratic activists that she must first convince to award her with the party's nomination, she distinguished herself from the field, by symbolically walking to the president's front door and taking the fight directly to him. They noticed, because they are watching more carefully than the average voter.

Video and still images from the event will be used to market Gillibrand as a "brave fighter" as the campaign unfolds. On that level, it was a successful production.

If other candidates follow her lead in the coming weeks, Gillibrand will know she succeeded in setting the agenda.

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Dean@DeanPagani.com I DeanPagani.com I ThisDecisiveMoment.com

© Dean Pagani 2019

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© Dean Pagani 2019

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