When asked how to get men to vote for a woman for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a simple answer: “Give them a tough, smart woman to vote for!”
The question came from a voter at a Monday town hall event in Exeter, New Hampshire. Warren then added: “So, I’m out here every day trying to talk to people about [my campaign], trying to bring more people into the fight, but if you’ve got more ideas ― I was told what I needed to do was smile more,” she said with a sarcastic smile, prompting laughter from the audience.
“I see this as a lot of women, and a lot of men, want us to have a country that works for not just a handful but a country that works for everyone,” she said. “And that’s what I’m counting on.”
Warren has mocked the “smile more” line before ― a common directive to put down serious women, infamously wielded against Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run for president ― recalling how experts advised her to do so to improve her chances in the presidential race.
The Massachusetts progressive has faced attacks over the past week from her Democratic rivals Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, who have painted her approach as angry and combative ― labels that research has demonstrated are significantly more damaging to women than to men in politics.
In a Medium article published last week, Biden accused Warren, without naming her, of having an “angry, unyielding viewpoint.” On Friday, Warren issued a fundraising email with the subject line: “I am angry and I own it.”
“Over and over, we are told that women are not allowed to be angry,” she wrote. “It makes us unattractive to powerful men who want us to be quiet.”
Warren is not the only woman in the presidential race to have noted sexism’s role in the primaries. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) argued on Sunday that Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would not have qualified for the Democratic debates if he were a woman, given his lack of experience in Washington.
“Of the women on the stage ... do I think we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don’t,” she said, referring to herself, Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). “Maybe we’re held to a different standard.”
Last month, Harris said, in an interview with Axios, that she believed the “elephant in the room” of her campaign was her “electability” ― as in, whether the United States is ready for woman of color to be president.