Democrats are won­der­ing if a woman can beat Trump

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY LISA LERER AND SU­SAN CHIRA

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.

TOR­RANCE, CALIF.

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.”

SCOTT VARLEY Or­ange County Regis­ter

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.

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