“Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?”
Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper triggered immediate liberal backlash on Wednesday when he pushed back on a question about whether he would choose a female running mate.
At a CNN town hall in Atlanta, host Dana Bash asked the former Colorado governor what has become a standard question for Democratic candidates: “Governor, some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?”
“Of course,” responded Hickenlooper, a 67-year-old centrist. But then he turned the question around on Bash, as a representative of the political press.
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“Well, I’ll ask you another question,” he said. “But how come we’re not asking, more often, the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?'”
After a moment of stunned silence, someone in the audience released what sounded like a yelp of disapproval. CNN then went to commercial break.
The backlash continued on social media, with many liberals accusing Hickenlooper of sexism.
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) March 21, 2019
Some users declared Hickenlooper’s campaign over just weeks after it launched.
Congrats to John Hickenlooper on his brief run for President. https://t.co/Afv6vvcsOm
— Alex Segura (@alex_segura) March 21, 2019
Others demanded he make it official.
— Abby Spice-Danvers (@clapifyoulikeme) March 21, 2019
Hickenlooper later told Bash a story about taking his mother to see an X-rate film, which provoced a separate Twitter conversation.
After the event, Hickenlooper told a CNN reporter that he stood by his answer to the female running mate question. He said he was criticizing what he saw as the false premise that a woman could just as easily be a presidential candidate and a vice presidential pick.
I caught up with Hickenlooper after his #CNNTownHall. He stood by this comment, saying his point was “too often media discounts the chance of a woman winning.”
"That is what I am talking about. People can take it out of context," he said. https://t.co/PznEX0ioAa
— Dan Merica (@merica) March 21, 2019
Gender has become a major part of Democratic identity politics following Hillary Clinton’s loss to Republican President Donald Trump in the 2016 elections. Six female Democrats have already joined the race for the presidency, and a record number of women ran for and were elected to Congress in the last midterm elections.
Other male candidates – including Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and failed Senate candidate – have strongly suggested they would name female running mates while stopping short of making an outright commitment. Both men have faced charges of white male privilege and even sexism.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey declared his unequivocal intent to put a woman on his ticket during an appearance Wednesday on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“We should be a ticket that reflects the diversity of this country — gender diversity, race diversity,” he said. “And if I am elected as the nominee, I’m going to make sure there is gender diversity on the ticket.”
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- Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper speaks to Dana Bash at a CNN town hall in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 20, 2019.: Screen grabs from YouTube