New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Must Convince Her Constituents

The senator appointed to fill Hillary Clinton's post must audition for all of the state.

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Hence, she's busy, auditioning from Buffalo to all points east. Monday, she gave her first major address as a senator to nearly 500 gathered at the Hilton New York. The host was the Association for a Better New York, and the reviews largely favorable, not unexpectedly as people paid $65 for a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon and the chance to hear her.

On hand was New York University's Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy, who says she's an attractive candidate for statewide office as a female, moderate, and Roman Catholic fundraising dynamo. But he thinks her debut speech was too short on vision and too long on a pet issue: agriculture. Perhaps his big-city bias is showing, but she struck him as an "apple knocker," the farmhand who shakes apples from trees, leaving others to put them into bushels. Now the former Manhattan attorney needs to woo voters in greater New York City, home to a large chunk of Democratic primary voters. "She's gotta go from being an apple knocker," he quips, "to being an advocate for the Big Apple."

Democratic political consultant William Cunningham was there, too, rating her performance an A minus. "Everyone is going to give her the opportunity to show us what she can do," he says. "Most New Yorkers think, 'Look, you got the job. Now run with it.'"

For the nation's newest senator—and its youngest—the show has just begun.