Democrats are wondering if a woman can beat Trump
Joyce Cusack would love to see a woman as president in her lifetime. But she is not sure it should happen in 2020.
“Are we ready in 2020? I really don’t think we are,” said Cusack, 75, a former Democratic National Committee member from Florida. Too many Americans may not want to “take another chance” on a female candidate, Cusack said, after Hillary Clinton was met with mistrust and even hostility in swing states.
But Andy McGuire, former chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, sees a different reality after a record number of Democratic women won races in the 2018 midterms. “I’d go back to this last election – who won?” said McGuire, who, as a superdelegate like Cusack, supported Clinton at the 2016 convention. “Who had the excitement? Who had all the volunteers and power behind them? It was women.”
As the 2020 primary competition gets underway with Elizabeth Warren’s entry into the race, and with several other women likely to be early contenders, two competing narratives have emerged about the possibility of another woman leading the Democratic ticket, interviews with more than three dozen party officials, voters and pollsters showed.
The year of the woman and the midterm gains that followed electrified Democrats, who have eagerly promoted themselves as the party of diversity. That success has inspired some of the most powerful women in politics to consider running for president. And it has boosted expectations that the political calculus for women has changed in the past two years, and that gender could become an asset, even in a presidential contest. Clinton, after all, won the popular vote by almost 3 million.
Yet at a time of ascendancy for women in the party, there’s a lingering doubt in some quarters about whether there is a risk involved in nominating a woman to take on President Donald Trump, whom Democrats fervently want to unseat.
The specter of Clinton’s defeat in 2016 still haunts some Democratic officials, voters and activists. There is widespread recognition that women in politics are held to a different standard than men on qualities like likability, and toughness, and that voters have traditionally been more reluctant to elect women as executives than as legislators.
Some women see bias in the excitement surrounding a potential presidential run by Beto O’Rourke, the Texan who energized the left in a losing Senate bid, while Stacey Abrams is not mentioned as a possibility even though she had a much narrower loss for governor of Georgia.
“There’s a real tension,” said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a former policy adviser to Clinton. “On one hand, women are leading the resistance and deserve representation. But on the other side, there’s a fear that if misogyny beat Clinton, it can beat other women.”
Much of the debate is grounded in the question of whether Clinton’s loss represented a rejection of women as president, or of one specific woman. How significant a role sexism played in Clinton’s defeat is difficult to separate from the other liabilities that hindered her campaign. Clinton struggled to deal with decades of political baggage and a Republican attack machine that cast her as aloof, elitist and disconnected. Her reliance on a tight-knit inner circle isolated her from tough political challenges, and she struggled to win over working class white women and men.
If Democrats nominate a woman in 2020, she will most likely face an onslaught of gender-based attacks from Trump, who did not hesitate in 2016 to mock the physical appearance and stamina of his female opponents. As the Republican nominee Trump carried more vulnerabilities on gender than any other modern candidate, facing allegations of sexual assault and harassment and having a record of lewd comments about women.
Still, exit polls indicated that a majority of white women voted for Trump, helping him seal crucial Electoral College victories in traditionally Democratic states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. As Democrats look toward 2020, the conversation is particularly relevant because the 2020 primary season could prove to be as historic as the 2008 and 2016 races; in those years, Clinton became the first woman to become a top-tier candidate and then a nominee.
Women’s political mobilization – as volunteers, candidates and donors – fueled the Democratic Party’s gains in the November elections, and Democrats still far outpace Republicans in elevating women to party leadership and representation in Congress. Female politicians now head all four of the Democrats’ campaign committees.
Three men were fatally shot late Friday and four injured when a brawl at a popular Los Angeles-area bowling alley and karaoke bar erupted into gunfire that had patrons, including children, running for their lives.
Police in the coastal city of Torrance responded shortly after midnight to calls of shots fired at the Gable House Bowl, which offers bowling, laser tag and an arcade. They found seven people with gunshot wounds.
Three men were pronounced dead at the scene and two were taken to a hospital, Sgt. Ronald Harris said. Two other men were struck by gunfire but “opted to seek their own medical attention.”
Authorities have not identified the victims or suspects or released details about what led to the shooting. But witnesses said it stemmed from a fight between two large groups.
Dwayne Edwards, 60, of Los Angeles, said he received a call from his nephew that his 28-yearold son Astin Edwards was one of those killed. His nephew told him his son was trying to break up a fight when a gunman “just started unloading.”
“I’m thinking this is a dream and I’ll wake up,” Edwards told the Orange County Register. “He was a good kid. I don’t understand it.”
A grieving mother told KABC-7 her 28-year-old son, Robert Meekins, was among the victims killed. She said her son was a friend of Astin Edwards, and she believed he also tried to help break up the fight.
“They were friends so I know he probably jumped in and helped Astin and whoever he was with … but I don’t think my son deserves to die,” Angeline Hubbard said.
Wes Hamad, a 29-yearold Torrance resident, was at the bowling alley with his 13-year-old niece and cousin when he saw a “huge fight” break out. Hamad said the brawl, which lasted about five minutes, blocked the entrance and spiraled into “complete chaos.”
“I grabbed my niece and started running toward the far end of the bowling alley,” he said. “As we were running, we heard 15 shots.”
As he was leaving, Hamad said he saw a woman weeping over a man who was had gunshot wounds to his head and neck.
Damone Thomas was in the karaoke section of the bowling alley, a regular stop for him and his friends after work on Fridays, when people ran in saying there was a shooting. The 30-year-old Los Angeles resident said his friend flipped a table to shield them as they heard gunshots.
Thomas said he didn’t feel scared because he was “just trying to survive.” But when he was driving home he said he realized how traumatic the situation was and said he wasn’t been able to fall asleep.
“Closing my eyes, all I can see is the women against the wall crying, not knowing what to do,” he said.
Thomas and Hamad said they had never witnessed any violence there in the past, but Hamad said he had stopped going for a while because he heard someone with a gun was recently seen there.
“I definitely won’t be going back anymore,” he added.
In a tweet, California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said her heart breaks for the victims.
“We must do more to address gun violence,” she said. “Americans should be able to go to a bowling alley and be safe.”
Torrance police officers investigate a fatal shooting at the Gable House Bowl in Torrance, California, on Saturday. Police responded shortly after midnight to calls of shots fired at the bowling alley.