Advance Notice: Briefs

Klobuchar points to Whitmer in Dem debate as an example of women candidates who win

By: - January 15, 2020 6:02 am

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.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (R) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) greet each other at the start of the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 30, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.