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Madame President, Revisited

Our post yesterday on the dearth of women in elected office (or running for elected office) who could be considered potential presidential candidates sparked a lively debate regarding female politicians who we overlooked.

(A quick Fix plug: For the most comprehensive look at the role of women in politics and the chances of a female getting elected president, make sure to check out a new book by the Post's own Anne Kornblut entitled "Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin & What It Will Take for a Woman to Win" -- coming soon to a bookstore near you!)

Here's a look at some of the most interesting suggestions/omissions from Fixistas (listed alphabetically):

* Kirsten Gillibrand: Anyone who knows the junior Senator from New York knows she has the ambition to run nationwide. (She didn't get the nickname "Tracy Flick" for being shy and retiring.) But, does she have the political chops? Gillibrand is a voracious fundraiser and the long history of high-profile senators from New York virtually ensures that she will have a national platform on issues. Of course, Gillibrand has to get elected to a full term next November to make any of the above operative.

* Karenna Gore Schiff: The oldest daughter of the Gore-acle seems ready-made to follow in the political footsteps of her father and grandfather. But, she knocked down speculation that she was eyeing a run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) in 2010 -- much to the disappointment of Gore watchers everywhere.

* Amy Klobuchar: No politician got more recommendations on the Fix than the Minnesota Senator. Klobuchar is young enough -- 49 -- and ambitious enough to make a bid.

* Lisa Madigan: Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General, has the look of a star. But, she passed on running for Senate or governor in 2010, a move that sets back her timeline for an emergence in national office a bit. One other complication for Madigan: her father, Mike, is the longtime speaker of the Illinois state House and a master practitioner of the sort of rough and tumble politics voters tend to dislike.

* Janet Napolitano: Napolitano's resume -- state attorney general, governor, head of the Department of Homeland Security -- is impeccable. She is widely regarded as a savvy political strategist by those who have come into close contact with her over the years, hails from the emerging Democratic base of power in the west and would only be 58 years old on election day 2016.

* Michelle Obama: Even more popular than her husband, the First Lady was mentioned several times by commenters. Anything's possible -- as politics in the last few years has proven -- but Michelle Obama seems far less interested in public life than her husband.

* Kathleen Sebelius: Before she became head of the Department of Health and Human Service, Sebelius was in the mix for vice president -- thanks in large part to her resume as a two-term governor from ruby red Kansas. Those who know her best insist she needed more seasoning before stepping into the limelight nationally but that's just what she'll get as a member of the Obama Cabinet. And, she certainly has the political pedigree; her father, John Gilligan, served as the governor of Ohio.

Want more? Check out this list of Republican women who could make it to the Oval Office.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 28, 2009; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Most Important Number in Politics Today
Next: Morning Fix: The Conundrum of Colin

Comments

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Posted by: opp88 | July 29, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Can't believe I didn't think of this. Meg Whitman! If she does win (perhaps a long shot), she'd be a Republican governor from California. Just like a certain president elected about 30 years ago.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 29, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

"MOT = Member of the Tribe"

Widespread Panic? Phish? Dead? Somethingcompletelydifferent?

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 29, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see Sebellius hit the list. The odds of a Republican woman becoming president may be higher than for a Democrat, despite the current dearth of national candidates. Sort of a Nixon going to China thing. My thoughts on a few possible Republican women:

Kay Bailey-Hutchison - Has to be top of the list. If she takes down Rick Perry, she'll be the incumbent governor of Texas.

Carly Fiorina - I'm thinking Veep here, but that's a stepping stone, no? If the economy is in the dumps, a Romney/Fiorina ticket would be a powerful challenge to Obama's reelection.

Condoleeza Rice - Again, a potential Veep nominee. She would add foreign policy gravitas to a ticket headed by a governor.

Sarah Palin - No. Just no.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 29, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

MOT = Member of the Tribe

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 29, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Whats a "MOT", KoolKat?

Posted by: Iconoblaster | July 29, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised that the good state of Washington Governor wasn't mentioned. You have a two-term governor in Chris Gregoire plus two highly-regarded Senators in Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. While Gregoire's approval ratings in her home state probably will prohibit her from running for national office, both Murray and Cantwell are young enough, have endeared themselve to the progressive base of the party, and have strong biographies. Murray's "Mom in Tennis Shoes" campaign slogan and history as a schoolteacher would certainly play to a national audience, and Cantwell was an extremely successful businesswoman before becoming Senator and has a strong grasp of internet privacy issues and e-commerce, making her an ideal "21st century" type of candidate. I'm surprised no one's even talked about them - I think Cantwell would make a great VP pick - but it's probably more a function that they don't mug for the camera and demand the limelight all the time in Washington.

Posted by: isummers | July 29, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

MMMM Gabby Giffords. Hotter than Palin, smarter than Palin, younger than Palin, and an MOT to boot. Astronaut hubby doesn't hurt either.

Me likey.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | July 29, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Just a general observation, what's fascinating about the impressions in the comments is how, now, with speculative candidates being relatively "so" young (like Gillibrand or Nikki Haley), it seems like we can say they won't be ready. But look at the candidate who won last year and the candidate who stirred up a whole lotta sentiment, in both directions?

For those not familiar, one of the barriers being attacked by groups interested in helping women enter politics is the age at which women enter politics. There's a big discrepancy between men and women (for men it's about 28 and for women it's well into their 30s). This increases the power of incumbency, name recognition, experience, fundraising ability etc.

Who will voters deem ready in 2012 or any other year, for that matter? Hard to predict - we voters make it that way. But for sure, the benchmarks are moving.

Posted by: jillzimon | July 29, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

@birchbeer, Giffords might have a chance but Solis has none. Between her lack of experience (a few years in the house and some time in a pretty low-level cabinet post) and the tax problems she had, I don't see her getting far.

Posted by: KRDuffy | July 29, 2009 6:04 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I am stating the obvious, but wasn't HRC talking about Chelsea?? Just saying - she chooses her words carefully to fit her daughter. And the best part - CVC will eligible to run in 2016. I am little excited.

Posted by: WAKYtombone | July 29, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

For tomorrow's Morning Fix:

The Fix asks
"The question: Will anyone in the party listen?"

You're kidding, right?

""the constant refrain of negativity impedes his credibility with the rank and file," said Scott Reed...

"If Powell were to call out the President for the experiment they are currently conducting on the American economy, it would certainly be a problem for the Democrats," said the consultant."


These guys don't want to fix the party, they want to find a way to use Powell to impugn the President.


.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 28, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

"It's a fun game when you put a whole bunch of monograms in one post to try and figure all of them out."

Someone's use of MIA earlier was amusing.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 28, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Economic issues matter and marriage is an economic issue. Studies show that married people are slightly healthier (less costs) and wealthier (pay more taxes) than their single counterparts and this is true for gay people as well. Therefore, it is in the state's best economic interest to grant marriage equality. This is because there are thousands of rights and responsibilities that come with the legal contract of marriage (yes, marriage is a legal contract). Gay people deserve these rights and responsibilities.

Posted by: boarderthom | July 28, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes I am sure that Linda Lingle, Jodi Rell, and Olympia Snowe will be too moderate for the Republican base for 2012 and possibly even 2016.

I think Amy Klobuchar, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, Janet Napolitano, and Lisa Madigan are the best future female candidates for the president of the U.S. because they are (or are perceived to be) moderates. In fact Herseth-Sandlin may even be too conservative. And if the Obama administration ends up collapsing (which it won't) then Napolitano will have to distance herself from the administration she worked in. Klobuchar has just the right distance.

I have my doubts about Kirsten Gillibrand being a credible presidential candidate. She is moving more and more to the left to satisfy primary voters in New York. But at the same time being a pro-gun control and pro-gay marriage Senator could damage her general elections prospects. Like Massachusetts politicians, New York politicians have to fight the stereotype that they are too liberal to run for president and Gillibrand is doing nothing to fight that perception. There hasn't been a president from New York since FDR and I think that trend will unfortunately continue for at least the next four elections.

Posted by: fable104 | July 28, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes I am sure that Linda Lingle, Jodi Rell, and Olympia Snowe will be too moderate for the Republican base for 2012 and possibly even 2016.

I think Amy Klobuchar, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, Janet Napolitano, and Lisa Madigan are the best future female candidates for the president of the U.S. because they are (or are perceived to be) moderates. In fact Herseth-Sandlin may even be too conservative. And if the Obama administration ends up collapsing (which it won't) then Napolitano will have to distance herself from the administration she worked in. Klobuchar has just the right distance.

I have my doubts about Kirsten Gillibrand being a credible presidential candidate. She is moving more and more to the left to satisfy primary voters in New York. But at the same time being a pro-gun control and pro-gay marriage Senator could damage her general elections prospects. Like Massachusetts politicians, New York politicians have to fight the stereotype that they are too liberal to run for president and Gillibrand is doing nothing to fight that perception. There hasn't been a president from New York since FDR and I think that trend will unfortunately continue for at least the next four elections.

Posted by: fable104 | July 28, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

For the record, Gillibrand is not running for a full term next year but the last 2 years of Hillary's term. Presumably, next year's primary will be the toughest step to get through. (By the way, I think Maloney got a bad rap on the n-word. Her use of it was about expressing how offensive the word is, not any sentiment from her.)

There were many women who voted for Obama over Hillary in the Democratic primary. As a matter of fact, Klobuchar, Sebelius and Napolitano all endorsed Obama in the primary. As did Caroline Kennedy. And a number of blacks endorsed Hillary over Obama. That's how it should be. If we let identity politics determine our vote, we're shutting out what really should matter in a vote. I oppose affirmative action in voting when the stakes are so high. What matters is who will reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism, who will impede catastrophic climate change, safeguard us against pandemic illness, roll back poverty. Vote for the candidate of any race, gender, religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation who convinces you they're the most able person to do that.

It's absurd to see those who haven't put the primary behind them when Hillary and Obama have and so much at stake in cooperation. She was quite eloquent on Meet the Press saying how she hopes her working under President Obama sets an example to other countries not to get mired in the past.

And whoever ends up president, we still have a big need to check the influence of self-interested banks, insurance companies, and other corporations over our legislators.

Posted by: birchbeer | July 28, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

As a Maryland voter, I'd say California's Feinstein is the most interesting (in the sense of having potential) powerful woman I watch aside from Ms. Rodham. And she doesn't impress me much. She suffers from the same ailment as Ms. Pelosi, she was elected from an alternate universe. Why, you might ask, have I nothing to say about Ms. Mikulski? Because she's never done anything that interested me.

Women talk a good game about having been beneath the wheel, but the middle class ones have spent a lot of time volunteering at the local SPCA while declining to learn about men who joined unions and were shot on picket lines. I guess "Labor History" isn't a part of "Feminist History".

Posted by: douglaslbarber | July 28, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

My oh my, lookie now everyone wants a woman President, is concerned about sexism in the media, etc. etc. etc.

I have been saying these things for YEARS, yet no one listened to me until 2008.

Let me just say now that the conservative complaints over how Republican women are mistreated is false. If anything, Democratic women are treated worse.

Just look at who has been in the news spotlight this year on politics: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Bristol Palin, Meghan McCain, Liz Cheney, Carrie Prejean, ... pretty much every type of white Republican woman you can think of. Before that there was Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Mona Charen, and tons of other conservative women pundits and authors. And for what? None of these women hold any particular posts, for a good number of them their only qualification for national attention is ability to make crazy remarks or being a relative of a politician. But they are supported and encouraged and thrust into the spotlight by the Republicans.

When the media focuses on Democratic women, like Hillary, Pelosi, and Sotomayor, it is only because they are forced to. You can't ignore Secretary of State, House Speaker or SCOTUS Justice nominee.

But the media (or Democrats) never goes out of its way to give voice to real liberal women who may not have been well known before and give them a chance to get known. If you look on Huffington Post, or the Daily Show, or the Nation, you see the overwhelming majority of writers are (white) men. Where are the liberal women that inspire the liberal, progressive base of the Democratic party? Where are the liberal women trotted out by the Democratic party as counterpart to women like Coulter, Bachmann, Cheney, and Palin?

Posted by: Factaaa | July 28, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

@chrisfox8

Well, I would respectfully look to push the envelope on that again. McCain still got the nod in the primary, despite the primary being when the base is the most concentrated and therefore most powerful - whether you call it caving or seeing reality, I'm not sure. But they did give him the nod.

I cannot envision how there will be MORE people in the base in 2012, and so I don't see how, if the GOP wants to win, it will be able to allow its concentrated, conservative base to wag the dog.

I know, I should disclaim: I've been left of center most of my life, I don't think much like a conservative most of the time, so it wouldn't be hard for me to be wrong.

But just observing and reviewing the way the electorate voted in the primaries, at the conventions and in the general, only a party that's ok with losing in 2012 would commit firmly now to the exact base it had in 2008.

IMHO of course.

Posted by: jillzimon | July 28, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Both Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar strike me as reasonable and decent candidates from what little I know of this group. As for Michelle Obama, I have met her brother, one of the most decent people I have ever met, if she is anything like her brother she could do anything she liked. I would hope that she didn't make the mistakes her husband has made, though. All in all, if I had to choose one, I am very impressed by Kirsten Gillibrand.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | July 28, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Those three women may be too moderate for the base, but you're assuming that today's base will be the same in 2012. Are you sure you want to stick with that assumption?

==

I think that assumption is safe for at least a decade to come. The GOP base will change only when the current extreme far right-types leave the electorate the permanent way. That will take time.

They're not going to become more moderate. The GOP is not going to get a host of new members. Who would feel like joining this decrepit party?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 28, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

@fable104

Those three women may be too moderate for the base, but you're assuming that today's base will be the same in 2012. Are you sure you want to stick with that assumption? Ohio's Sen. Voinovich complained outloud yesterday what others have been thinking re: the party is becoming the southern party. And New England has a dense population for all its small states and a lot of moderates. Many pundits and analysts have been pointing out for several months now that the base isn't getting bigger and is only more concentrated.

I'm not sure that any of those three women make it either, but for VP? Very possibly. And depending on what happens in the next 30 months? Maybe beyond.

It's not like McCain was so loved by the base, if memory serves me well. ;)

Posted by: jillzimon | July 28, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Linda Lingle, Jodi Rell, and Olympia Snowe would never make it out of a Republican primary. They are all far too moderate to satisfy the base.

Amy Klobuchar has a lot of potential as does Lisa Madigan. But I would rather see Madigan on the Supreme Court or as a U.S. Senator. Kathleen Sebelius will be almost 70 by 2016. Janet Napolitano is another good pick. I hope Michelle Obama and Karenna Gore Schiff never run for public office.

What about Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin?

Posted by: fable104 | July 28, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

mark, they would block my post if I gave you an honest review of Ronnie Earle - but I will say my first experience with him oes all the way back to Ann Richards v. Clayton Williams - he threatened our client Lloyd Williams with indictment if he did not sign an affidavit linking Clayton to drug dealing . my boss went to the Houston Post with the story and Earle backed down - it only gets worse from there

How do the Dems expect to win when the entire ticket to date is only Anglos - the Republicans at least have a latina running for governor (latina by marriage0 Medina

Bobby WC

Posted by: bobbywc | July 28, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Bobby, would you consider Ronnie Earle a "serious rumor"?

Our State Senator, Kirk Watson, has big bucks on hand for a D, and is well connected. But he does not seem interested in the gov. race.

My guess: nobody runs against Schieffer and the walk-in ticket splitters help KBH defeat Goodhair in the R primary.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 28, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

"Thanx, Bsimon and Ddawd. Birchbeer, they knew I was referring to Biden - the three of us go back awhile."

It's a fun game when you put a whole bunch of monograms in one post to try and figure all of them out.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 28, 2009 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Mark, I agree with 100% about Snowe - right now I would say no money is available for a Snowe campaign, but Palin may change that. Palin, if she becomes the posterchild for the Right among Republicans will send Independents fleeing from the Party - it will take a Snowe to bring them back.

Politicians love one thing more than dogma, power - the money movers in the Republican Party will care about power and quickly learn being in power with Snowe is better than being out of power with Palin being the voice of the Rightwing

mark, any rumors up your way of the Dems running a serious candidate for Gov

Bobby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: bobbywc | July 28, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanx, Bsimon and Ddawd. Birchbeer, they knew I was referring to Biden - the three of us go back awhile.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 28, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Who is JB? Are you talking about James Buchanan as your favorite Democrat? (Yikes.) And referring to rumors that he was gay?

Klobuchar is married- well, it's a new world- she's opposite married to a man.

And her inclination to levity would be an asset in a field of boring candidates.

Posted by: birchbeer | July 28, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Who is JB? Are you talking about James Buchanan as your favorite Democrat? (Yikes.) And referring to rumors that he was gay?

Klobuchar is married- well, it's a new world- she's opposite married to a man.

And her inclination to levity would be an asset in a field of boring candidates.

Posted by: birchbeer | July 28, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Who is JB? Are you talking about James Buchanan as your favorite Democrat? (Yikes.) And referring to rumors that he was gay?

Klobuchar is married- well, it's a new world- she's opposite married to a man.

And her inclination to levity would be an asset in a field of boring candidates.

Posted by: birchbeer | July 28, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"And how could I forget the Senator's opening remarks, during which she briefly mentioned running into Judge Sotomayor's mother in the restroom? Its a little odd."

She had some bathroom remarks when she visited us too. I think it was about her and Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: DDAWD | July 28, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

"Bsimon1, when you wrote that Sen. Klobuchar was goofy [my recollection of your word; forgive any inaccuracy], was that a criticism, a compliment, or a little of each? What do people mean when they criticize her the way you and Ddawd did [Ddawd's word was "quirky", I think]?"

I can't speak for Bsimon (but I think he had the same mindset I did), but I meant it would be something that I personally looked favorably upon, but might not stand so well with the rest of the populace. When I met her, she kind of had this shoot from the hip personality that Biden or Howard Dean might have and enjoyed joking around with us and so forth even got a little off-color.

But this was at an Obama campaign office with no cameras or anything, so I think she acted a little differently than she might have. I've youtubed her recently and she still has that spark in her personality, but also doesn't seem like she would pull a Biden either. This is in contrast to someone like Obama who we know can loosen up when he wants, but that isn't the default setting.

Her and Sebelius are my favorites on that list (although those are the only two I really know anything about)

Posted by: DDAWD | July 28, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

And how could I forget the Senator's opening remarks, during which she briefly mentioned running into Judge Sotomayor's mother in the restroom? Its a little odd.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 28, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"I read lots of great reviews of AK and she appears at ease with the camera on the news shows - so when two of the most knowledgeable posters at "The Fix" use words like "goofy" and "quirky" I am imagining a female version of JB [who was my fave D, of course]."


When I say goofy I'm thinking of the joking at the end of the Sotomayor questioning injecting the prior evening's MLB allstar game into the proceeding. I understand that such hearings are long, tedious & a little levity can be welcome, but I still think its odd to include it in such a forum.

Having said that, she is clearly intelligent, wonkish and dedicated to doing her job. She handled the extra caseload during the Franken-Coleman trial with grace and class.

So, what I am saying is that I am satisfied with her work as my Senator. I will probably vote for her next time, rather than the IP candidate. But I don't see her as being ready for a run for the Presidency.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 28, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Olympia Snowe has the gravitas and skill to do it, but is out on a limb as a barely left-of-center Republican, and probably could not raise funds as an R. A shame, really, because she has been a first class Senator.

Bsimon1, when you wrote that Sen. Klobuchar was goofy [my recollection of your word; forgive any inaccuracy], was that a criticism, a compliment, or a little of each? What do people mean when they criticize her the way you and Ddawd did [Ddawd's word was "quirky", I think]?

I read lots of great reviews of AK and she appears at ease with the camera on the news shows - so when two of the most knowledgeable posters at "The Fix" use words like "goofy" and "quirky" I am imagining a female version of JB [who was my fave D, of course].

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 28, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Double (barrier) crossing...

A few black women...

mid-40s UN Ambassador Susan Rice? foreign policy expertise but as she's never run for office, I have no idea how she'd be as a campaigner...

mid-40s candidate for California AG Kamala Harris? Also half-indian

young candidate for Obama's seat (though it'd be an upset if she wins that race), Cheryle Jackson...

A wise Latina...
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is about 50.

And a nice Jewish girl (with an astronaut husband)...
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords from AZ in her late 30s

Posted by: birchbeer | July 28, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

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