Pat Schroeder

On Running for President - May 6, 2008

Pat Schroeder
May 06, 2008— Brooklyn, New York
Conversations about Shirley Chisholm: Women in Politics
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This is an excerpt from a speech at Woody Tanger Auditorium in the Brooklyn College Library.

But in 1988, I looked at running for president. I keep thinking how I always thought that the world was changing so much faster than it was. That’s probably the biggest mistake I’ve always made in my life. When I got elected in ’73, I asked the Library of Congress how long it would be before half the house would be female, like the population. And the answer was 425 years, and I thought, what?! But now I’m beginning to think maybe they’re right. All these many years later, and we still don’t have anywhere close to that number. We don’t even have a critical mass of any minorities or women. It’s still basically a predominantly white organization, although it’s better. So you look at how slow that is.

When Geraldine Ferraro went on the ticket in 1984, I thought, this is great. Big mouth here went around saying, we will never have a ticket again in America without this kind of diversity, right? Well, I was totally wrong, as we haven’t had a ticket of diversity yet, since 1984.

But in 1988, I had started out as Gary Hart’s campaign manager, and I had pushed him against the wall and said, now tell me. Are these rumors true? And he’s like, I can’t believe you’d ask. How can you do this? Well of course, it turns out the rumors are true, and Donna Rice appears, and he is out of the race. So I thought, well, you know there’s no women running this time, and there should be diversity, and I had cleared my calendar to help Gary, so why don’t I run for president? So wait a minute.

And it was really eye-opening. It was so amazing. The things that you experience. My favorite question, and this would be from people in the media: Why are you running as a woman? It got to be harder and harder to figure out how I was going to finally respond. Well what should I have done? Run as a horse? Run as a [unintelligible]? I didn’t check the box, I don’t remember. You would finish a whole speech on nuclear power or something, and someone would say, why are you wearing green? Or how do you wear your hair when you’re dressed up? Or are you wearing earrings or should you not wear earrings? I’m like just stop. The things you could not possibly believe.