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Gillibrand officially launches 2020 bid, calls Trump a 'coward'

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, speaks to guests during a campaign st
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, speaks to guests during a campaign stop in Dubuque, Iowa, on March 19, 2019.   -   Copyright  Scott Olson Getty Images

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., officially launched her presidential campaign on Sunday with a speech outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City, saying she wants voters to know that no one in the Senate has done more than she to fight President Donald Trump.

"I'm proud to have stood up to Donald Trump more than anyone else in the Senate," she said, according to prepared remarks. "I've fought against his ban on transgender service members in our military and the inhumane unacceptable treatment of asylum seekers at our border. I have confronted the corruption of this administration by opposing unqualified Cabinet nominees and extremist judges who would extend Trump's harmful ideology for generations to come."

"I will go toe-to-toe with anyone to do the right thing, whether it's powerful institutions, the president, or even my own party," Gillibrand continued. "But I'm not running for president because of who I'm fighting against. I'm running for president because of who I'm fighting for."

The two-term senator launched an exploratory presidential committeein January, but so far, she has not taken off in the polls despite being one of the more prominent members of Congress running for the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination.

Gillibrand has positioned herself as a leader of the #MeToo movement and was the first senator to call for then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment.

On Sunday, she said Trump is "tearing apart the moral fabric of our country" and "demonizes the vulnerable" by punching down.

"He puts his name in bold on every building," Gillibrand said. "He does all of this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not. Our President is a coward."

"That's not what we deserve — not what you deserve," the senator continued. "We need a president who is brave — a president who will walk through fire to do what's right, making Americans' lives better."

The White House did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.

Gillibrand also pointed to the Trump building she was speaking in front of as "a shrine to greed, division and vanity.

"And now look around you," she said. "The greater strength, by far, is ours."