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PITTSBURGH — Kirsten Gillibrand’s near the bottom of the 2020 pack by every measure: The New York senator is at zero percent in a recent NBC/WSJ poll, and second-quarter fundraising numbers reveal that she’s burning through money faster than any other presidential candidate in the race right now.
But she's got a new way to roll: in a bus dubbed "Broken Promises."
Gillibrand decided to switch things up last week with a bus tour targeting not her umpteen Democratic primary challengers but rather Donald Trump. She spent 48 hours in three states and six cities in the heart of the Rust Belt, starting in Pennsylvania, touring through Ohio, and ending in Michigan.
She told VICE News that bus tours are “fun” — and teased plans of some whiskey drinking while she was on the trail as well. But she was also serious about the kinds of plans she has for a part of the country that used to be a Democratic stronghold and flipped red for Trump in 2016. Some examples of how she says she will revive manufacturing jobs: Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, enacting a deadbeat company tax, and investing in apprenticeship programs run by unions.
At a town hall in Youngstown, Ohio, she told a group of about 30 people, “I’ve got to tell you, coming to this community...that has borne the brunt of Trump's broken promises trade deals is one of the most important things I'm going to do in this presidential campaign, because the truth is he lied to you. He lied to the American people."
Crystal Carpenter, a former General Motors inspector from the shuttered Lordstown plant nearby, told VICE News at that stop that she’s not sure if Gillibrand can beat Donald Trump, but she immediately said the Trump presidency has affected her life.
"I have no job. The same job that he told me don't sell my house for, the same job he said is coming back. Where is it?”
For Gillibrand’s part, she may not be on the ballot in these states in the presidential primary if she can’t break through in Iowa or South Carolina, some of the early states that can make or break a presidential campaign.
But in a suburb of Detroit, the senator insisted to VICE News she can, and will, make it.
"I'm showing by my time and by my message that I'm not only the person to defeat Trump, but I'm actually the person who can heal this country, who can bring us back together again. To find that common ground and remember the notion that we do better when we care about one another when we treat others the way we want to be treated when we actually care about the least among us."
This segment originally aired July 18, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.