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 WarrenHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off 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 HarrisHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off Hillicon Valley: Florida county that backed Trump was one of two hacked by Russians | Sandberg pushes back on calls to break up Facebook | Conservative groups ask WH to end Amazon talks over Pentagon contract MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — Momentum builds for federal laws enshrining abortion rights | Missouri lawmakers approve bill banning abortions at 8 weeks | Warren unveils plan to protect abortion rights 2020 Dem Seth Moulton calls for expanding cannabis access for veterans Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights MORE (D-N.Y.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmakers grapple with the future of America's workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate On The Money: Mnuchin signals officials won't release Trump tax returns | Trump to hold off on auto tariffs | WH nears deal with Mexico, Canada on metal tariffs | GOP fears trade war fallout for farmers | Warren, regulator spar over Wells Fargo MORE (D-Ohio), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Sanders unveils education plan that would ban for-profit charter schools Warren policy ideas show signs of paying off MORE (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharInslee gives public option first test in Washington state Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Poll: Biden is only Dem candidate that beats Trump outside of margin of error 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 TrumpTrump calls for Republicans to be 'united' on abortion Tlaib calls on Amash to join impeachment resolution Facebook temporarily suspended conservative commentator Candace Owens 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 ClintonWarren policy ideas show signs of paying off Biden at campaign kickoff event: I don't have to be 'angry' to win Top Dem: Trump helps GOP erase enthusiasm gap; Ohio a big problem 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 RosenLawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding Dem lawmakers accuse DHS, HHS of giving them misleading information on family separations This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report 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.”