This isn't going to plan for Kirsten Gillibrand

The potential reasons for why her campaign hasn’t caught on are seemingly endless. People working with her campaign acknowledge that she clearly underestimated how much her being out front in calling for Al Franken to resign from the Senate was going to haunt her—even though that was a year and a half ago, and despite the fact that all the other senators in the race called for him to go too. Among primary voters and partisan media outlets that put a premium on purity, no one is letting go of her past pro-gun or anti-immigrant positions. The media spotlight she gets in New York and Washington only makes it more shocking when insiders in those cities realize she’s largely unknown to almost everyone else…

Among her supporters, though, there’s a growing sense of nervous impatience. “This is all a game of Chutes and Ladders. There are a lot of ladders that are in front of her that I believe will let her climb,” Jon Reinish, a former aide who is not working with the campaign, told me. That said, Reinish added, “it is perplexing and surprising and bedeviling to me that it has taken so long to get traction that I certainly expected to see sooner.”

Seeing Buttigieg light up the internet in March for an interview in which he briefly spoke in Norwegian “was an awakening,” another person close to the campaign told me. Gillibrand learned Mandarin in college, had studied in China, and had occasionally whipped out a few phrases on the trail, but neither she nor anyone who worked for her thought that was worth harping on. “Thinking about that becomes more important than [visiting Iowa’s] 99 counties, all the shoe-leather campaigning,” the person close to the campaign told me. “That’s a massive change.”