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 WarrenFormer Army paratrooper and congressional candidate Richard Ojeda files papers to run for president Kellyanne Conway responds to idea of Clinton 2020 campaign Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress MORE (Mass.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Memo: Dem hopes for 2020 grow in midterms afterglow Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems MORE (Mo.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems McCaskill points finger at Fox following loss, calls it ‘state-owned news channel’ MORE (N.D.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoVictimhood culture and traditional justice are on a collision course Hirono coasts to reelection in Hawaii Senate race It’s time to recognize the service of Chinese-American WWII veterans with Congressional Gold Medal 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.


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.