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Gillibrand campaigns for president in New Hampshire

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., takes questions from voters at jajaBelle’s Pastry and Coffee Shop in Nashua, New Hampshire, Saturday morning. (Photo provided — Adam Urquhart, The Telegraph)

NASHUA, N.H. — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., made her way across the Granite State Saturday, stopping in Nashua where she took questions from area voters over a cup of coffee at jajaBelle’s Pastry and Coffee Shop on Main Street.

The coffee shop was crammed with area elected officials, voters and members of the media, all hoping to get a word with the senator during her nearly hour-long stop in the city.

Gillibrand covered a range of topics during her time in the city, including immigration, education and protections for members of the LGBTQ community.

Immigration

While some fear the possibility of another government shutdown in the coming weeks, Gillibrand made her views on immigration reform clear, citing that the United States was founded by immigrants. She said she believes in comprehensive immigration reform, and that America’s diversity always has been a strength. She also said officials in Washington, D.C., should recognize this strength, and that she wants to change what President Donald Trump is doing relative to immigration.

“I think he has demonized immigrants, he has demonized refugees, he has demonized people seeking asylum, and in my state, we have the Statue of Liberty sitting in New York Harbor,” Gilligrand said. “She stands there for a reason.”

She said she thinks the hate that Trump has and continues to put forth is very destructive.

As it is, Nashua is one of the most diverse areas in New Hampshire, with 64 different languages spoken in the school system. Gillibrand said she will fight for every one of those voices.

“I’m running for president because I will fight for their children as hard as I would fight for my own,” Gillibrand said. “I will fight for your children and your grandchildren as hard as I would fight for my own. It’s who I am; it’s how I see the world.”

Education

Gillibrand voiced her views on how to better shape how the country’s youth see the world by making college more accessible to those looking to better themselves. She said she thinks college should be accessible to everyone, and that it should not be about whether one has enough money or can take out a large enough loan. While the student-loan industry continues to cripple people financially, she thinks the country should be able to lower student debt.

“I think we should make more opportunities for free college available, and one thing I would like to talk about is saying, ‘If you’re willing to do public service for a year, you can get two years at a community college or a state school,'” Gillibrand said. “If you’re willing to do public service for two years, you can get four years.”

Gun control

Gillibrand also spoke to another hot topic among the country’s younger populations — gun control — and she responded in passionate detail when Alderwoman-At-Large Shoshanna Kelly asked her about the controversial issue.

“I think the fact that Congress has done literally nothing in the last 12 years I’ve been in Congress shows how corrupt our government can be because of money,” Gillibrand said. “The reason why we don’t pass common-sense gun reform is because of the greed of the NRA, and let’s be very clear, the NRA is mostly funded by gun manufacturers, and when they fund the NRA, their goal is gun sales.”

She went into further detail and said the NRA does not care if the person purchasing a gun is on the terrorist watch list, or if it is a teenager who walks into a retailer to purchase an assault weapon or even if the person has a criminal record and is intent on committing violent crimes. She simply said, “They don’t care.” She said that is why they oppose universal background checks, banning bump stocks and any regulations on age.

LGBTQ

Another hot topic that hits close to home for Gillibrand is LGBTQ protections, and making sure everyone is respected and protected. She said this is a personal issue for her, and vows to protect all the country’s youth who fall into that group.

“I think how this president dehumanizes our LGBTQ members, our transgender troops, our transgender kids, is so harmful,” Gillibrand said. “I am offended to the core, and it creates rage in me that does not subside, because I can just imagine if it were my own son.”

Other topics

Other areas of interest for Gillibrand included reforming the bail system, making sure marijuana is decriminalized and holding pharmaceutical companies accountable, especially in light of the ongoing opioid crisis.

Gillibrand also made stops in Portsmouth and the New Hampshire Seacoast on Saturday.

The Telegraph of Nashua, New Hampshire is a sister paper of the Enterprise, and the Enterprise is picking up its coverage of presidential candidates from New York.

Fast Facts

Kristen Gillibrand

Born Dec. 9, 1966, in Albany, New York

A 1988 graduate of Dartmouth College and a 1991 graduate of the UCLA School of Law

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006 from a district in Upstate New York

A member of the U.S. Senate since January 2009, after being appointed to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton

Has formed an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination