08/10/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Kirsten Gillibrand On Sports, Nicknames, And Pantsuits

This time, my first interview with Gillibrand, in mid-May, ­begins in the least threatening way imaginable: looking at a ­photo album, offered by her press secretary, featuring the senator's two ­beguiling sons, five-year-old Theo and Henry, who will be ­celebrating his first birthday with his parents this evening. Sniffling from a cold she caught from her boys and curled up on the edge of a canary yellow sofa in the Senate office she inherited from Clinton, Gillibrand seems to revel in chattering about safe topics. All it takes, for example, is a simple reportorial question to reduce her to giggles: Have you figured out how to handle child care as you run statewide in New York?