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 WarrenJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC Poll: Biden, Sanders lead Trump in Iowa 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 HarrisJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC Ex-GOP lawmaker Handel to run for her former Georgia seat in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Klobuchar pressing Barr on release of Mueller report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Mueller report is huge win for President Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownGreen New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate Trump mounts Rust Belt defense Warren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses MORE (D-Ohio), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power Dem senators demand offshore drilling info before Bernhardt confirmation hearing Business groups urge Congress to combat LGBTQ discrimination in workplace MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersJam-packed primary poses a serious threat to Democrats in 2020 Treason narrative collapses; who bears responsibility? Pence hits 2020 Dems for skipping AIPAC MORE (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar pressing Barr on release of Mueller report Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate Why do so many Democrats embrace hate speech? 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 Trump 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 ClintonGraham: McCain 'acted appropriately' by handing Steele dossier to FBI Why Mueller's hedge on obstruction decision was a mistake Giuliani says news media treat Dems better than GOP 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 RosenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority The Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations 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.”