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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 WarrenThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (Mass.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats must turn around Utah police arrest man driving 130 mph claiming he was going to kill former Missouri senator McCaskill congratulates Hawley on birth of daughter MORE (Mo.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration MORE (N.D.) and Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation 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.