Press: White House not only for white males

Yes, it’s starting too early. John F. Kennedy waited until Jan. 2, 1960, just eleven months before the election, to announce for president. But those blessed days are gone forever.

Yes, it’s starting too early, but the 2020 presidential election is already upon us full force. On New Year’s Eve, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren warns another 'economic crash' is coming The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE (D-Mass.) became the first major candidate out of the box. She was joined last weekend by former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. And, from all reports, Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll New CBS poll shows Biden with 7-point lead in New Hampshire MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage MORE (D-N.Y.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (D-Ohio), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie Sanders'Medicare for All': The hype v. Maryland's reality Biden says he supports paying campaign staff minimum wage Biden's lead narrows in early voting states: poll MORE (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage MORE (D-Minn.) will soon take the plunge.

As a Democrat, I love the fact that there are as many as 32 Democrats talking about running in 2020. It’s a reflection of the energy and excitement among the Democratic base that led to 40 new seats in the House of Representatives and incredible gains among governors and state legislatures in the 2018 midterms. And it’s a good sign of the momentum building for booting Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE out of the White House in 2020.

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There’s only one sour note in that chorus of enthusiasm for 2020: the idea I hear from many in my party that the only way Democrats can beat Donald Trump is by nominating a white male candidate. It’s impossible to win with a woman, they insist. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Part of that reasoning is left-over disappointment from the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report A question for Robert Mueller MORE campaign. But that, too, is misdirected. Yes, as a woman, Clinton faced criticism and insults no man would be subjected to, including questions about whether she’d be “tough” enough to stand up to Vladimir Putin. In the end, she proved tough enough, but Donald Trump isn’t.

But Clinton lost in 2016 not because she was a woman. She lost because she ran a terrible campaign, failing to articulate a message that resonated with disaffected, blue-collar, traditional Democratic voters — or even to show up in key swing states. Not to mention blunders she made with those lucrative Goldman-Sachs speeches and the private email server. Plus, let’s not forget that Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million. By any fair count, she’d be in the White House today.

What’s most frustrating is that so many Democrats should even raise this issue — the viability of female candidates — after the phenomenal success of women running for office in 2018. Of 102 women elected to the House of Representatives, 89 were Democrats, including the first two Native-American women, the first two Muslim women, the first two Latinas from Texas, the first African-American women from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Democrats also elected two new female senators, Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE of Nevada and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and four new women governors of Kansas, New Mexico, Michigan, and Maine.

Not only that: In addition to actual candidates, women volunteers motivated by the misogynist in chief, most of them getting involved in politics for the very first time, provided the ground troops that fought for and delivered those stunning victories. Their numbers speak for themselves.

Running as a woman was a big advantage, not disadvantage, in 2018. And could prove to be even more so in 2020, up against a man who has serious vulnerabilities on gender, still facing serious accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Especially against Donald Trump, Democrats have nothing to fear from a female candidate for president. The lesson to be learned from Hillary Clinton’s loss is not that a woman can’t be elected president, but that, in order to win, any presidential candidate, man or woman, has to run a smarter campaign.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”