The Democratic presidential candidate fielded the question at a town hall event in Iowa on Monday night. During her conversation with CNN’s Jake Tapper, a man in the audience asked what she thinks of the notion that Democrats would have a better chance of winning the 2020 election with a male candidate.
Playwright and composer Robert John Ford noted that many Democrats “agree that the primary objective for 2020 is to nominate the candidate that has the best shot at defeating Donald Trump.”
“Some have also said that, given what occurred in 2016 and the current political climate, that a male nominee will have a better chance this time around than a female nominee,” he continued. “Would you please respond to this so that this man has a response ready the next time a man tries to mansplain why a man would make a better nominee?”
The audience responded with applause and laughter as Harris rose to her feet, eager to respond.
“The person who presented that point really is not giving the American voters enough credit. They’re smarter than that,” she said. “The people who vote, the people who live in this country in this country are smarter than that. They’re going to make decisions based on who they believe is the best leader.”
She added she didn’t listen to those who doubted her when she successfully ran for district attorney in San Francisco and later attorney general of California ― so she’s not going to start listening to them now.
“I’ve heard people say — when I ran and ran as the first woman who would win — [people would say] ‘People aren’t ready,’ ‘Oh it’s not your time,’ ‘Nobody like you has done that before,’” Harris told the audience. “I haven’t listened and I would suggest that nobody should listen to that kind of conversation.”
Her listeners responded with a round of loud applause.
Harris formally launched her 2020 presidential campaign in Oakland, California, on Sunday. She joins several Democrats who have already announced White House candidacies, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Watch Harris’ full answer to the town hall question below.