Election 2020

Schumer on Crowded 2020 Field: 'Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom'

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) celebrate on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — With as many as four women from the upper chamber competing for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made clear he’s embracing a more-the-merrier position for the moment.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told late-night host Stephen Colbert today that she’s forming an exploratory committee to run for president, and filed with the Federal Election Commission soon after.

Gillibrand said she’s “going to run for president of the United States because as young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I will fight for my own, which is why I believe healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.”

“It is why I believe we should have better public schools for our kids because it shouldn’t matter what block you grow up on,” she said. “And I believe anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced on New Year’s Eve that she had launched an exploratory committee to probe a 2020 bid. Announcements could be forthcoming from Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Outside of a closed policy luncheon on Capitol Hill today, Schumer was asked about the Senate women running for president and Gillibrand specifically.

“First, I work very well and closely with Senator Gillibrand but I’m not mixing in the presidential political game right now,” Schumer replied. “Second, I think it’s great that a lot of people are running and particularly great that a lot of women are running. Our leadership team, for instance, has six women, five men in the Senate and extremely capable people. And I have said to every candidate who’s asked me, ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom.’ Let’s get a lot of people out there and see who the best candidate to beat Donald Trump is. I don’t know who that is right now.”

Referring to Warren’s Instagram video announcement, Trump tweeted Sunday, “If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!”

GOP Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.) tweeted in response, “SD, where the Wounded Knee Massacre took place, is currently home to nearly 80k enrolled tribal members. On that day in 1890 more than 200 Lakota men, women and children were killed. The Wounded Knee Massacre was one of the darkest moments in our history. It should never be used as a punchline.”

The National Congress of American Indians issued a statement Monday condemning “in the strongest possible terms the casual and callous use of these events as part of a political attack.”

“Hundreds of Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho people lost their lives at the hands of the invading U.S. Army during these events, and their memories should not be desecrated as a rhetorical punch line,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel.

“President Trump should remember that the United States has broken and continues to dishonor the treaties of peace made with our nation and other tribal nations of this country, and he should apologize immediately to the people of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations for his shameful and ignorant misstatement,” said Rodney Bordeaux, chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and NCAI Great Plains alternate area vice president.