Press: White House not only for white males

Yes, it’s starting too early. John F. Kennedy waited until Jan. 2, 1960, just eleven months before the election, to announce for president. But those blessed days are gone forever.

Yes, it’s starting too early, but the 2020 presidential election is already upon us full force. On New Year’s Eve, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Kamala Harris announces presidential campaign MORE (D-Mass.) became the first major candidate out of the box. She was joined last weekend by former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. And, from all reports, Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Harris after announcing presidential run says her 'highest priority' is protecting Mueller probe MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE (D-N.Y.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Sen. Casey says he won't run for president in 2020 The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Day 27 of the shutdown | Cohen reportedly paid company to rig online polls, boost his own image | Atlantic publishes ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ cover story MORE (D-Ohio), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dem on call for Nielsen investigation: I am 'sick and tired of this administration lying' Dem senator requests FBI investigate Nielsen for potential perjury Trump officials discussed ‘deterrent effect’ of prosecuting migrant parents: report MORE (D-Ore.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Sanders knocks Trump in MLK Day speech Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Identity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination CNN analyst Phil Mudd: Barr will ‘crush’ Trump administration MORE (D-Minn.) will soon take the plunge.

As a Democrat, I love the fact that there are as many as 32 Democrats talking about running in 2020. It’s a reflection of the energy and excitement among the Democratic base that led to 40 new seats in the House of Representatives and incredible gains among governors and state legislatures in the 2018 midterms. And it’s a good sign of the momentum building for booting Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE out of the White House in 2020.

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There’s only one sour note in that chorus of enthusiasm for 2020: the idea I hear from many in my party that the only way Democrats can beat Donald Trump is by nominating a white male candidate. It’s impossible to win with a woman, they insist. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Part of that reasoning is left-over disappointment from the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Russian pop star linked to Trump Tower meeting cancels US tour Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies MORE campaign. But that, too, is misdirected. Yes, as a woman, Clinton faced criticism and insults no man would be subjected to, including questions about whether she’d be “tough” enough to stand up to Vladimir Putin. In the end, she proved tough enough, but Donald Trump isn’t.

But Clinton lost in 2016 not because she was a woman. She lost because she ran a terrible campaign, failing to articulate a message that resonated with disaffected, blue-collar, traditional Democratic voters — or even to show up in key swing states. Not to mention blunders she made with those lucrative Goldman-Sachs speeches and the private email server. Plus, let’s not forget that Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million. By any fair count, she’d be in the White House today.

What’s most frustrating is that so many Democrats should even raise this issue — the viability of female candidates — after the phenomenal success of women running for office in 2018. Of 102 women elected to the House of Representatives, 89 were Democrats, including the first two Native-American women, the first two Muslim women, the first two Latinas from Texas, the first African-American women from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Democrats also elected two new female senators, Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenInflux of women in Congress can improve women’s retirement security Overnight Health Care: DOJ seeks extension in ObamaCare lawsuit due to shutdown | Poll finds voters oppose court ruling against health law Press: White House not only for white males MORE of Nevada and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and four new women governors of Kansas, New Mexico, Michigan, and Maine.

Not only that: In addition to actual candidates, women volunteers motivated by the misogynist in chief, most of them getting involved in politics for the very first time, provided the ground troops that fought for and delivered those stunning victories. Their numbers speak for themselves.

Running as a woman was a big advantage, not disadvantage, in 2018. And could prove to be even more so in 2020, up against a man who has serious vulnerabilities on gender, still facing serious accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Especially against Donald Trump, Democrats have nothing to fear from a female candidate for president. The lesson to be learned from Hillary Clinton’s loss is not that a woman can’t be elected president, but that, in order to win, any presidential candidate, man or woman, has to run a smarter campaign.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”