It’s been a little while since we checked in on New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign, probably because she’s been stuck in the trenches and polling in the vicinity of zero. But she’s still out there beating the bushes and trying to round up votes and campaign contributions. One of her latest campaign gimmicks involved getting out there with the regular people and playing some beer pong. No… seriously. This is a thing that actually happened. (Associated Press)
Her first shot landed short and her teammate’s bounced away. But Kirsten Gillibrand’s second ping pong ball splashed home and she threw both arms skyward while her opponents chugged, celebrating a beer pong victory in the most presidential way possible.
The scene on a rainy Friday night in a bar in Nashua, New Hampshire’s second-largest city, follows a pattern for the 52-year-old New York senator. She’s trailed better-known rivals in the packed Democratic 2020 presidential field in polling and fundraising, but she’s making a case for being the coolest candidate in the race.
Driving between New Hampshire events in February, she stopped to go sledding. She’s played foosball and baked cookies, arm wrestled and hung out with drag queens at an Iowa bar some call “Gay Cheers.”
It appears that her team thought it was such a good idea that they decided to fundraise off of it. This endearing little video shows her taking a shot, but pausing the action in midair to ask if you might be willing to contribute a dollar to her campaign if she makes it. (Spoiler alert: She does.)
This wasn’t the first time she’s done this. (Allahpundit touched on the subject a week ago.) But she must think it works because she’s been hitting bars all over New Hampshire, looking for opportunities to chat up the locals.
This isn’t crazy in any way, honestly. It’s just retail politics at the most local of levels. If you can “run into” some voters who may have been leaning toward one of the frontrunners and spend some time hanging out with them, perhaps they’ll buy into your message and remember you as someone they spent time with on a personal level. Of course, it only really works in a national campaign in the smallest, lowest population states like Iowa and New Hampshire.
But at the same time, you have to come off as authentic. When it’s just an obvious gimmick, the majority of voters will simply tune it out. Foosball, arm wrestling and swapping outfits with drag queens all make for a quick headline targeting political junkies, but it has to translate to some actual support. At this point, there’s still some question as to whether or not Gillibrand will even qualify for the debates in June. She’s managed to reach 1% in four polls (barely) but we don’t know if she’s hit the 65,000 unique donor mark.
Odds are they’ll have her on the stage anyway because the optics of leaving one of the female candidates out in the cold in the #MeToo era would look toxic. But what answers will she be able to give by then that the nearly two dozen other hopefuls haven’t already proposed? Maybe they’ll leave some plastic cups of water on the lecterns for all the contenders and Gillibrand can wow them with some ping pong balls hidden in her pockets.