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Senators discuss 'me too' campaign on sexual harassment

Senators discuss 'me too' campaign on sexual harassment
© Greg Nash

A group of female senators is speaking out in personal terms about sexual harassment and assault in the wake of the "Me Too" campaign, which is aimed at bringing awareness to the issue.

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes David Crosby: Shared dislike for Trump could reunite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea MORE (Mass.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes GOP Senate candidate fundraising lags behind Dems in key races McCaskill challenger links human trafficking to 'sexual revolution' of 1960s MORE (Mo.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHouse passes bill to ease menu labeling rules under ObamaCare In 2018, Trump must be the small-business champion he claimed to be GOP goes on offense with 20-week abortion vote MORE (N.D.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection WHIP LIST: Shutdown looms as Senate lacks votes to pass House spending bill Dem senator: Trump 'made clear' that he wants 'white people to come to our country' MORE (Hawaii) spoke with NBC News about the online campaign in a clip released Friday.

The social media campaign took off this month in the wake of numerous sexual harassment and assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The online campaign encourages women to share their stories about sexual assault on social media to illustrate how widespread the problem is. NBC said it approached the senators to share their own experiences.

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McCaskill and Heitkamp discussed with NBC News their own experiences with the issue as young politicians.

"I was a very young state legislator and in my 20s and I was single. And I was nervous about getting my first bill out of committee," McCaskill told NBC News as part of the interviews airing Sunday on "Meet the Press."

"So I cautiously approached the dais and went up to speak to the very powerful speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives. And I explained to him the bill I had, and did he have any advice for me on how I could get it out of committee. And he looked at me and he paused and he said, 'Well, did you bring your knee pads?'" she recalled.

Heitkamp also shared a story involving a law enforcement official.

"I had an event where I was speaking and it was a retired officer. I was talking about what happens to women and what happens when there's violence in the home. And after I got done, this very much older law enforcement official came up to me and he pretty much put his finger in my face and he said, 'Listen here, men will always beat their wives and you can't stop them,'" Heitkamp said.

"Usually it’s males who are doing this to women, that they should know that this is not appreciated. And it's not cute. It's not fun," Hirono told NBC News.

More than a million tweets and 13 million Facebook posts included the "Me Too" hashtag as of Thursday, according to ABC News.

The movement was originally started in 2007 by activist Tarana Burke to help sexual assault survivors in impoverished areas. 

Actress Alyssa Milano reignited the movement on Twitter in recent days, saying, "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet."

Warren praised the movement's founders, calling the campaign courageous. 

"The first women who started the 'me, too' campaign were incredibly brave. And they inspired the next wave. And in turn, they inspired the next wave and the next wave and the next wave. That's how we make real change," she said.