Don’t Trust Politicians Who Say They Aren’t Running for President

by Nathan L. Gonzales May 5, 2017 · 8:30 AM EDT

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told a group of local reporters in New York that she is not running for president in 2020. But, of course, that means you shouldn’t take her off any list of potential presidential candidates.

The Empire State’s junior senator is among the dozen or so Democrats most often mentioned as potential challengers to President Donald Trump, but Gillibrand probably needs to win re-election in 2018 first in order to remain in that conversation.

When asked about her intentions on Monday at a stop at Fort Drum in the state’s North Country region, she replied, “Well, I’m dedicated to serving our state as our senator and I’m running for re-election so I can continue to be their senator.

Does that mean she’s ruling it out?

“I’m focused entirely on running for Senate, so yes, I’m ruling it out,” she said.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I don’t have specific evidence that Gillibrand indeed intends to run for re-election and serve out her full term. But her recent comments aren’t enough for me to remove all doubt about her 2020 plans.

I remember when Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was interviewed by Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” on January 22, 2006.

“I will serve out my full six-year term,” said Obama, who was elected to the Senate in 2004. “You know, Tim, if you get asked enough, sooner or later, you get weary and you start looking for new ways of saying things. But my thinking has not changed.”

“So you will not run for president or vice president in 2008?” Russert clarified.

“I will not,” Obama concluded. Just more than a year later, he officially announced his presidential campaign. 

Here is the entire show  transcript, if you’re interested, if you don’t believe the clip or want to read the whole conversation.

I understand as reporters we have to ask politicians these questions. It’s part of the game. But we also don’t have to believe their answers. Just remember this if you happen to be freezing on Jan. 20, 2021 at her inauguration.