Kirsten Gillibrand campaign

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., shakes hands with Abraham Weldu of Sioux City during a campaign stop Friday at Pierce Street Coffee Works in Sioux City. The senator has formed an exploratory committee to make a presidential run in 2020.

SIOUX CITY -- With Monday being the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. for his quest to ensure civil rights, many people are celebrating him in nationwide events.

There was an event in which U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke, and in a tweet, Rev. Al Sharpton wrote that she "started preaching this morning during her remarks at NAN’s King Day Public Policy Forum." Sharpton included a video where Gillibrand is gesturing as she made her points.

That reminded me of statements that Gillibrand, who one week ago formed an exploratory presidential committee, made Friday in a stop in Sioux City. At Pierce Street Coffee Works, a woman asked if it is true that she and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, are strong friends. Gillibrand said that was so, and that they both agreed on the necessity of reducing sexual assault in the military branches.

Gillibrand, a senator from New York, added, "Joni and I go to Bible study often."

After that event, I had an interview session with Gillibrand in downtown Sioux City, and asked her about those comments, since a mention of Bible study is somewhat rare for Democrats in campaign stops. Gillibrand said faith has informed her life and disputed that religion is the province of campaign speeches only by Republicans.

"I don't think it is about any one party or it is about any one faith," Gillibrand said.

She added, "My faith is really what centers me and it is also drives me. It is also why I am running for president, because I believe all of us are called to make a difference. I believe all of us are here to help one another, to love one another, to believe in the Golden Rule, to treat other the way you want to be treated."

Gillibrand said her legislative life has been about taking on the powerful systems in the U.S. that shut out working-class people.

"If you're going to restore what is right about this county, you've got to take on those powerful systems that make it impossible," the senator said.

"You know, there is a quote from the Bible, 'Only light can drive out darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.' That's what this moment in time is about, we all are being called to be the light, to drive out what is wrong."

She concluded her answer with areas Gillibrand said President Donald Trump has divided the nation's people in a way that runs counter to religious tolerance.

"The hate that President Trump has spewed, the division, the racism, the anti-Semitism, the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant -- it is not who we are as Americans, and I so much want to restore that integrity and the compassion that we've had for one another. I believe that I have the compassion and the courage and a fearless determination, that is driven by my faith, to take that on, for the right reasons," Gillibrand said.

The Iowa Republican Party in a tweet wrote, "#ChameleonKirsten is nothing more than an opportunistic politician who goes whichever way the political wind blows."

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