Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that he would consider putting a woman on his presidential ticket, and then asked why female Democratic presidential candidates are not being asked if they would select a man as their running mate.
The comment struck a number of Democrats as off base, especially considering that the nation has never had a female vice president.
“Governor,” CNN’s Dana Bash said at a presidential candidate town hall, “some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?”
“Of course,” Hickenlooper said, before saying he wanted to ask Bash a question.
“How come we’re not asking more often the women, ‘Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?’ ” he said with a shrug, to audible groans from the audience.
Hickenlooper stood by the comment after the town hall, telling CNN that his point was “too often media discounts the chance of a woman winning” by asking questions like that.
“They are never asked that question. Or at least, maybe I have missed it, but women I know feel that is a form of discounting, that they are less likely to win the nomination. That is what I am talking about,” Hickenlooper said. “People can take it out of context.”
Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Hickenlooper, echoed that sentiment, telling CNN that his comment was meant to show that asking a man about his running mate and not asking the same question of a woman inherently discounts female candidates’ chances at winning in 2020.
Hitt said Hickenlooper was “making the point that the media too often discounts the chances of women winning the nomination themselves.”
Linda Sarsour, the co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March, simply tweeted the emoji of a woman hitting her forehand with her palm.
Former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki tweeted that the comment was “painful.”
Notably, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another 2020 contender, was asked Sunday if she would pick a man as her running mate.
“I was wondering, would you consider picking a man for your vice president?” a reporter asked after a town hall in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I want someone who is going to get out there and fight on behalf of working people. That’s what matters most,” Warren replied.
She commended male Democratic candidates who say they will choose a woman as their running mate if they win the nomination, telling reporters that “whatever they want to do to throw more ideas into this debate I think is great.”
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has pledged repeatedly over the last few days to make a woman his running mate if he wins the Democratic nomination.
“No matter what, I’m looking you in the eye and saying this: There will be a woman on the ticket. I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or in the president’s position,” Booker recently said in New Hampshire.
He told Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday, “If I am elected as the nominee, I’m going to make sure there is gender diversity on the ticket.”
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who announced his candidacy last week, has also said it would be his “preference” to name a woman as his running mate should he win the nomination.
“It would be very difficult not to select a woman, with so many extraordinary women who are running right now,” he said in Iowa.