Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Planned Parenthood summit | Susan J. Demas
It was inevitable. After a torrent of stories about a 2018 conversation when presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said rival U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told her that a woman can’t win the nation’s highest office (which Sanders denies), the exchange became catnip for moderators in Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.
Moderator Abby Phillip of CNN also asked U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) at the Des Moines, Iowa, debate: “What do you say to people who say that a woman can’t win this election?”
Klobuchar, who has made eight campaign stops in Michigan and has name-checked the state in previous debates, took the opportunity to give Gov. Gretchen a shoutout for her 2018 victory over GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette.
“I hear that. People have said it. That’s why I’ve addressed it from this stage. I point out that you don’t have to be the tallest person in the room. James Madison was 5’4″. You don’t have to be the skinniest person in the room. You don’t have to be the loudest person. You have to be competent,” Klobuchar said.
“And when you look at the facts, Michigan has a woman governor right now and she beat a Republican, Gretchen Whitmer. Kansas has a woman governor right now and she beat Kris Kobach. And her name is — I’m very proud to know her, and her name is Gov. [Laura] Kelly.”
Klobuchar ended on a theme she’s hit on in Michigan, her record, saying, “I have won every race, every place, every time. I have won in the reddest of districts. I have won in the suburban areas; in the rural areas. I have brought people with me.”
Whitmer has been floated by various national media as a strategic vice presidential choice, given her almost 10-point victory in a state now-President Trump flipped in 2016. Whitmer has twice told the Advance she isn’t interested, most recently in May.
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