Elizabeth Warren responded to concerns about sexism hindering her 2020 presidential bid by referencing her approach to running against former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown in 2011.
At a CNN town hall hosted by Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire on Monday night, the current Massachusetts senator and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was asked about the nervousness from some that she could get “Hillary’d” during the election.
“What lessons have you learned from 2016 that will help you to kind of navigate these situations when you might be criticized for something that’s partially motivated by [sexism]?” Harvard student Ellie Taylor asked Warren.
The Bay State Democrat pointed out in her response that the issue of sexism in politics predated the 2016 election.
“Can we all just let our hair down here for a minute — this didn’t start in 2016,” she said. “It’s been around for a while.”
Without mentioning Brown by name, Warren explained how she first encountered it “big time” when she was being encouraged to run for Senate in 2011. She said Democrats who called her to convince her to run also told her that she would lose because the state “was not ready to have a woman senator or governor.”
“These were Democrats calling me saying, ‘You should do this, you’re going to lose,’” Warren recalled. “All I can say is, ‘Democrats, get a better message.’”
She said that each time she saw a little girl while she was campaigning, she made a point of introducing herself and saying, “I’m running for Senate because that’s what girls do,” and then pinky swearing for them to remember.
Warren said that during that campaign, each evening she would “count up” the pinky swears she’d gotten that day, even as coverage focused on what she was wearing, her hair, or whether she smiled enough.
“The way I see it is here we are in a presidential, and it’s the same kind of — you stay after it every day,” she said. “One might say you persist. Organize, build a grassroots movement, fight for working people, and that’s how I am going to be the first woman elected president of the United States.”