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Sunday, February 17, 2019

NEW YORK (Reuters) – After she spends Saturday marching in Washington among an expected 200,000 women protesting the presidency of Donald Trump on his first full day in office, Amy Davis-Comstock plans to take her first steps toward her own possible run for office.

The 50-year-old resident of Saginaw, Michigan, is part of a sharp increase in U.S. women signing up for courses run by political activist groups aimed at helping them mount campaigns for mostly low-level political offices.

Groups including Emily’s List, which supports Democratic women candidates, and nonpartisan VoteRunLead and Ignite report that online and in-person classes that typically see a few dozen participants are now attracting hundreds of women newly interested in politics.

“This election really made me realize that we need to have really good candidates,” Davis-Comstock said in a phone interview.

Davis-Comstock, who works in Saginaw’s unemployment office and is the mother of a teenaged daughter, said she was considering running for her local school board or county commission.

On Sunday, she plans to attend a class in Washington by Emerge America, which recruits and trains Democratic women interested in seeking office.

GALVANIZING IMPACT

Trump’s victory in the Nov. 8 election proved particularly galvanizing for women for a number of reasons, activists said.

The Republican New York businessman defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for the White House by a major political party.

He also aroused controversy during the campaign with demeaning comments about women, including remarks in a leaked video in which he could be heard bragging about groping women and making unwanted sexual advances.

Trump also spoke out against abortion rights and pledged to defund reproductive healthcare provider Planned Parenthood.

Despite the backlash over those comments, Trump won 53 percent of the vote among white women.

The Trump transition team did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment about the women’s march.

Trump has denied that he is anti-woman in campaign comments in which he said he would be “really good for women.” He also apologized for the leaked video remarks and categorized them simply as “locker room talk.”

‘MAD AS HELL’

Women, who account for almost 51 percent of the U.S. population, are sharply underrepresented in public office across the country, particularly at the state and national levels. There are only five female governors among the 50 states and women make up about 20 percent of the U.S. Congress.

“Women run for office when they want to fix something or when they’re mad as hell,” said Alexandra De Luca, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List.

That group is holding a political training session for 500 women marchers on Sunday, a larger version of an event that has typically attracted 30 to 40 women over the past 20 years.

A monthly online course offered by VoteRunLead for women called: “This is How You Run for Office” swelled to 1,103 participants in December and 1,151 in January from an average of about 50 in the months before the election, said founder Erin Vilardi.

On Sunday, the group is hosting an event with Planned Parenthood, one of the sponsors of the women’s march, to entice women who “aren’t already thinking about running for public office,” Vilardi said.

California-based Ignite, which trains teenagers and young women with political aspirations, reported that 100 high school teachers from across the country had asked about purchasing the organization’s curriculum, according to the group’s chief program officer, Sara Guillermo.

That was up sharply from the 10 teachers who expressed interest in the six months before the election.

The groups focus on women running for local offices as the natural stepping-off point for political careers.

The surge in interest has not been limited to Democratic women.

Maggie’s List, which supports conservative female candidates, has also seen an increase in interest from donors and aspiring women politicians since the election, said National Executive Director Missy Shorey.

“This election was a huge wake-up call for people,” Shorey said, adding the group had been approached by conservative Trump supporters and opponents.

“Sitting it out means that you’re leaving it in other people’s hands,” she said.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)

IMAGE: Demonstrators chant in protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States, at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. November12, 2016.  REUTERS/David Becker

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3 responses to “Women Marching Against Trump Plan Next Step”

  1. Girlpower says:

    Hillary’s message got her 3 million more votes than frumpy. So she won the message and her 66 million voters won’t go unheard. We intend to show the repubs we won’t be ignored. I’m 60 years old and I’ve never protested anything in my life but nothing will keep me from being in the Women’s March on Saturday. I intend to voice my first amendment rights. We intend to save Planned Parenthood, Roe v Wade, Social Security, The ACA, Medicare, Medicade and most of all Free Speach. Women have fought long and hard for our rights and we will not back down to a lying, thieving con artist indebted to Russia.

  2. Trump’s misogyny and comments go far beyond locker-room talk but is a sign of a diseased person, and he must be constantly reminded of this. A tepid apology didn’t help, nor is the support of a large segment of women who have no respect for themselves be a sign that he’s OK for what he has said.
    Trump and other so-called humans with this gutter mentality would be a better fit in societies like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran currently, with their ancient amoral attitudes and policies limiting women’s progress and the “Male Guardianship” systems.

    Speaking of Male Guardianship in Saudi Arabia, and in many other Muslim societies using a principle not labeled as such, is another of many tragic misinterpretations of Islam’s cultural context, a misinterpretation of the Sunnah and other examples of early Islamic Society regarding behavior by men towards women that no longer are appropriate and are abrogated. Abrogated since the inception of the Message of both “The Bab” dating back to 1844 in Iran, and again proscribed by Baha’u’llah in 1863 and extending well into the future. This abrogation, and parallel Tablets and exhortations regarding women’s rights and striking down gender oppression, are among central themes which extend to all of humanity across the globe.

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