Tags: Grooming | Woman | Candidate | for | 2008

Grooming a Woman Candidate for 2008

Sunday, 03 September 2006 12:00 AM

In 1984, we called it the "A Team." We were the small group of audacious women who came up with the idea that we were going to groom a woman for the vice presidential ticket, even before we knew who was going to be at the top of the ticket.

Our top priority was Geraldine Ferraro, a three-term U.S. representative whom most Americans had never heard of when I became her top aide on the Democratic Platform Committee. No problem. I brought in Madeleine Albright to brush her up on foreign policy. We held meetings and receptions around the country, helped her develop a national base ... and, of course, she was the last woman to serve on a national ticket.

Twenty-four years is too long.

Many Democratic women are pinning their hopes on Hillary for the top of the ticket.

But we women have been around long enough to understand that there always has to be a "Plan B."

After all, while I think Hillary will run, not everyone agrees with me. While I think Hillary will win the nomination, many women don't. Even many who support her are concerned that she could be upended in Iowa by John Edwards, run into trouble in South Carolina from Edwards and Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and be weakened by early losses. Anything is possible.

And women must be prepared.

There is more than one woman capable of being on the Democratic ticket. Problem is, most people don't seem to realize that; and with a 500-pound gorilla like Hillary at center stage, it may be difficult to see.

Thus, Plan B. If Hillary is Plan A, with her race for the top of the ticket, then Plan B is the effort to do what we did 22 years ago – help prepare the party, its leaders and its potential candidates to put a woman in the number two spot.

Senior Democratic women are sure about this: We are not going to be satisfied with a ticket with two men on it in 2008. Not when we have not only Hillary but also a number of absolutely first-rate women governors who could, and should, be groomed for the number two spot on the ticket.

Not when committed women like longtime Democratic donor Lynne Wasserman, Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders Laura Liswood, and pro-choice activist and Oklahoma Democratic Party leader Pam Fleischaker are ready to sign on to the effort. Not to mention yours truly.

And for once, we have a real pool of talent, beginning with two of the nation's outstanding governors, Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius, governors of Arizona and Kansas respectively. What amazing women these two are. And yet, I bet if you aren't from their states, you may not even have heard of them.

Governors are the traditional breeding ground for president. Think George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, to name four.

Janet Napolitano is the first woman to chair the National Governors Association. A former attorney general and U.S. attorney for Arizona, she has made law enforcement and border security two of her top priorities. But she has also phased in full-day kindergarten as an option for every child in Arizona.

When she came into office, she faced a billion-dollar deficit, which she managed to erase without raising taxes or cutting vital services. What a profile. She is also a terrific campaigner and avid sports fan, and she inspires tremendous loyalty among those who know her. She is easily favored to win re-election to a second term this fall.

Kathleen Sebelius served four terms in the Kansas House of Representatives and two terms as Insurance Commissioner before being elected governor. Time magazine named her one of the nation's top five governors, citing her work to cut waste in government and bridge the partisan divide. During her term, she has come up with nearly $1 billion in savings. She has made education and job creation top priorities of her administration, and more Kansans are working today than ever before.

Compare these two women's records with, say, George W. Bush's record as governor, or Bill Clinton's, also a former NGA chair, or Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter, and the short answer is that there is no difference except in the people behind them pushing and supporting their rise to the top.

That's us. We'll be there. We have the experience. Been there. Done that. And we're about to do it again.



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In 1984, we called it the "A Team." We were the small group of audacious women who came up with the idea that we were going to groom a woman for the vice presidential ticket, even before we knew who was going to be at the top of the ticket. Our top priority was...
Sunday, 03 September 2006 12:00 AM
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