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 WarrenOn The Money: Trump rolls dice on uncertain economy | 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington | Watchdog group pushes 2020 candidates for 10 years of tax returns House Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Bannon says an O'Rourke-Harris ticket poses the greatest threat to Trump in 2020 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 HarrisMichael Bennet 'encouraged' in possible presidential bid: report House Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Strategist says Trump is 'retreating' from talking about foreign policy MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOn The Money: Trump rolls dice on uncertain economy | 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington | Watchdog group pushes 2020 candidates for 10 years of tax returns Watchdog group calls on 2020 candidates to release 10 years of tax returns Poll: Gillibrand, de Blasio have favorable ratings under 30 percent among New Yorkers MORE (D-N.Y.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWarren, Klobuchar call on FTC to curtail use of non-compete clauses The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight Trump faces political risks in fight over GM plant 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) SandersMichael Bennet 'encouraged' in possible presidential bid: report House Dems unveil measure to reject anti-Israel boycotts Bannon says an O'Rourke-Harris ticket poses the greatest threat to Trump in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHarris's stepkids call her 'Momala' Sanders joins striking workers at UCLA in first 2020 California visit Lawmakers urge tech to root out extremism after New Zealand 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 TrumpClinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Missouri Gov. declares state of emergency amid severe flooding Swalwell on Hicks testimony: 'She's going to have to tell us who she lied for' in Trump admin 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 ClintonClinton and Ocasio-Cortez joke about Kushner's alleged use of WhatsApp Hillicon Valley: Kushner accused of using WhatsApp, personal email for official work | White House rejects request for Trump-Putin communications | Facebook left 'hundreds of millions' of passwords unsecured | Tech pressured to root out extremism Man accused of mailing pipe bombs to Dems pleads guilty 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.”