Exclusive - Kirsten Gillibrand Extended Interview

July 27, 2016 - Kirsten Gillibrand 07/27/2016 Views: 5,366

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand reflects on how Hillary Clinton inspired her political career and explains how paid family leave affects the American workforce. (6:41)

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Please welcomeSenator Kirsten Gillibrand.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

Right here?


The people love you, Senator.

I think they love you.

No, no, they love you.They love you.

Thank you so muchfor being on the show.

I'm delighted.

It must be...quite an occasion for you.

Because you're not justcoming at this

as a senator from New Yorkwho's in the Democratic party,

but Hillary is someonethat has been in your life

from the beginningof your political life.

Yes. I mean,Hillary truly has been

my greatest role modeland mentor.

And when I decided I had toget involved in politics

it was because, as first lady,she gave that speech

from Beijing and she saidwomen's rights are human rights

and human rightsare women's rights, and...

(cheering and applause)

For me,I was just a young lawyer

pushing paper in New York City,

and I noticed that that wassuch an important statement,

such a powerful statementfrom our first lady.

And I had been an Asian studiesmajor. I lived in Beijing.

-I lived in those dorms.I studied Chinese. -Yeah.

And so I thought this woman,to say those things

from that place,was so powerful.

And I thoughtthis is a conversation

I should be part of,and that's when I decided

to get involved in politics.

-Now, you-you, um...-(cheering and applause)

You often hear people saying,

"Oh, nothing gets donein politics. What's the point?

"The system is against you.It's rigged.

The whole thing doesn't move."

Is there really any,uh, I guess, advantage,

is there something to be gainedfrom getting into it yourself?

Why would you encourage youngpeople to get into politics?

Without a doubt. I-I think,

for all of your viewers, uh,their voices are so important.

As you've said, this electionis the most important election,

the most important choice we'regonna have in our lifetimes.

The entire trajectoryof our country

will be determinedabout this election.

-And possibly the world.-If... Yes.

If you care aboutwomen's rights, if you care

about gay rights, if you careabout equal pay for equal work,

if you care about paid leave,if you care about clean air

and clean water,these two candidates

couldn't be more different. AndHillary Clinton is gonna lead

this countryin a better direction.

(cheering and applause)

The, um...

It's interesting thatyou bring up, um, paid leave.

That is oneof the biggest discussions

that Americansare still struggling with,

which is weird, for a countrythat is leading the world.

Paid family leave seems obvious.

For someone out there who goes,why is it so important for us

to get family leave,what are you saying to them?

We're literally the onlyindustrialized country

in the worldthat doesn't have paid leave.

And so if you are going to bea new parent, new mom, new dad,

and not to have a sick dayor a vacation day,

not even have one paid day togive birth, it's unconscionable.

And for so many women...

Only about 12%of women in America today

have access to paid leave.

-The rest of them-- they don'thave the time off. -Yeah.

And so if they want to bewith their infant,

they're going to haveto either quit their job,

or find some carefor that child--

a mother, a daycare, something,to be at work the next day.

It's just not conceivable,and it's bad for the economy.

Women lose about $320,000in their lifetime

in pay and retirement becausewe don't have paid leave.

Because if you don't have thattime off after having a child,

you're more likely to be goingon public assistance,

and you're more likely, whenyou go back into the workforce,

to be paid at a lower wage

starting at the bottom,and that's...

We call it, actually,"the sticky floor,"

because two thirds of minimumwage earners are women

because every timethere's a life event--

a new baby, a sick parent,a family member--

they have to start thisover and over,

and they can never getout of that low-wage job.

It's unconscionable we don'thave paid leave in this country.

-(applause and cheering)-It's a...

It's really is,as you say, a sticky floor.

There are people out there

who don't think of itfrom a business side.

There are people who don'trealize how beneficial it can be

-to the businessand to the economy. -Yes.

You know, people are going like,"Oh, I can't pay you

because you're having babies.How does that help me?"

If there is someone out therewho's asking that question,

how does that help youas a business person?

How does that help youas a business owner?

Businesses wasteabout $3 billion

over the last decadein replacing workers

who had to leave becauseof a family emergency.

And make no mistake,every worker is going to have

a family emergency,whether it's a new baby

or whether it'sa sick family member.

And you need to havethat flexibility at that time,

or the person who's there,they can't concentrate,

they're likely going to quit.

So we've had paid leavein a couple of states.

California's had itfor ten years,

and businesses there,90% of businesses said

it had no negative impact,

or a positive impacton their bottom line.

And 99% of businesses saidit improved morale,

it improved retention.

And so why wouldn't youhave paid leave?

Why wouldn't you createthis benefit

so that your employeescan be loyal, be there,

be focused, and-and... be ableto work at their full potential?

It makes no sense that we don'thave it in this day and age.

What is the holdup, though?Because, I mean,

I was looking at the numbers,

and... large amountsof Republicans

also support this--so I don't understand

how you have, I think it's 58%of Republicans who support it,

why would it not go through?

Well, peoplelike Donald Trump think

that's somethingyou have to be careful about.

Well, I don't understand.

Like, what do we haveto be careful about?

Well, it. It we must be careful about.


Well, we should have paid leavein this country,

and it makesgood business sense.

It's interesting you say that,because Donald Trump says that,

but Ivanka Trump,at his own convention

-before he came out on stage...-That it was a good idea.

Made her whole platform, really.

She was justtalking about, uh...

-Paid leave. Equal pay.-Paid leave.

Things that arereally important.

And what I was so pleased aboutthat, it makes a difference

that at leastat the Republican Convention,

one speaker said we needpaid leave in this country.

That is so important,because this is something

we all have to fight for.

It's not a Democratic idea,it's not a Republican idea,

it is a good idea,and it's the kind of thing

we should move together for toactually pass in this country.

(cheering, applause)

It's an exciting timeto be alive.

I, uh... I will say this.

You are... you are also,

uh, a senator from New Yorkwho is a woman,

so, uh, the next steps are...

-(laughter)-Yes? Yes? Yeah?

-A bit of pressure, is there?-No. No.


That means yes. That means yes.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand,everybody.

-We'll be right back.-Thank you.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)