In going after Gillibrand, Trump’s allies paid her a surprise compliment, revealing their wariness that, under the right circumstances, she might pose more of a problem for the President than is generally recognized. For years, Gillibrand has been said to have an eye on the White House. Currently, that would put her somewhere on a list of half a dozen Democratic senators jockeying for attention before the 2020 campaign, including Cory Booker, of New Jersey, Kamala Harris, of California, and, more prominently, Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.

In a Times story this week, Parscale once more disparaged Gillibrand as a prime example of Democratic “political contortionism,” saying, “Her only core belief is that her positions can be completely reversed to meet the mood of the progressive left.” But writing off Gillibrand as a chameleon underestimates her well-honed alertness to where her voters may be headed, and the emerging conditions that could make her a stronger challenger than she appears to be. As one of her aides once told me, “For her, Option One is light and sunshine, Option Two is cut your nuts off.”