Stephanie Schriock

Remarks at the Clinton School of Public Service - Oct. 5, 2015

Stephanie Schriock
October 05, 2015— Washington, D.C.
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Thank you so much. Thank you for that great introduction.

As I was listening, I was having a moment flashing back to being the speaker of the Mankato State Student Association, trying to learn Robert's Rules of Order. I was having a little moment back there, so thank you for sharing that story.

And it's great to be here today. Thank you so much for having me. I was thinking on my way in about the first time I arrived to Little Rock, Arkansas. I was here then to work with your at-the-time attorney general, soon-to-be United States senator Mark Pryor. And for context, I'm from Montana so this is a whole new world to this Montana girl.

So one of the things that has never gotten old for me working in politics is the part of the job where you get to travel around the country and you get to meet new people and see new places. And one of the best things about doing that, in my book, are the great local restaurants that you get here to eat at and the wonderful local food.

So when I first got to Arkansas, Mark Pryor took me to Quiznos and he then proceeded to make some sort of drink out of the fountain machine that included Pepsi, root beer, Diet Mountain Dew and everything else that was on the machine at that time. I got to tell, you I was getting a little worried because if that's how everybody in Little Rock drank their soda I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it the next few months here. Luckily it wasn't everybody in Little Rock – it was just mark Pryor. Or maybe a few others – I don't want to judge if that's your thing, to be fair.

So luckily I was able to remain in Arkansas working with Mark Prior, not having to drink any weird Coke cocktail and eating some really good barbecue. So thank you for that.

Now, if you had told me when I was growing up in Montana that I would someday find myself sitting in a Quiznos with a future United States senator, I wouldn't have believed you. If you had told me someday that I would be running the country's most powerful women's organization, I would have told you you were absolutely crazy.

I am so proud to be from my hometown of Butte, Montana, and I grew up surrounded by a lot of hard-working folks and a lot of political organizing, though most of it being done by men. See, Butte is a mining town. It's the kind of place that you're either with the workers or you're with management, and that was just a given my family supported the workers.

But there wasn't a lot of electoral political talk in the Schriock household and there was a reason for that. See, even though we were in Montana, my parents were good Midwesterners, my father from Minnesota, my mom from Iowa. And my dad was a Vietnam veteran, a sportsman, a hunter, a fisherman. He's a gun owner – he owns quite a few guns – so my mom and I assumed that he was a Republican. Years later I go to college and I happen to be dating a Republican at the time and we're all together with my father, who then proceeds to share with us, in shock and appall that I thought he was a Republican, that he has been a Democrat his entire life. "But, Stephanie, it's your mother who's the Republican." So basically my mother, who was so excited to support Geraldine Ferraro but was afraid to say anything, and my father, who clearly voted for Walter Mondale but was afraid to say anything, because they thought each other were voting for Reagan – that was the Schriock household for a long, long time.

So how did I get started in politics, cause it clearly wasn't in partisanship in the household. It was really in the rough-and-tumble environment of Butte High School. This is where the serious politics happened in Butte. See, I decided that I was going to run for class president my freshman year and my sophomore year and my junior year and I lost every single one of those years, but by the time I ran for student body president going into my senior year, I had figured out a key element to my strategy. See the whole school voted, not just my class, so if I focused all my energy on the freshmen and sophomores I had a shot. And then I got the younger sister of one of my opponents to endorse my candidacy. This all resulted in a victory for the Butte High School student body president Stephanie Schroick. It also taught me my very first key political tactics. One, targeting your voters is very, very important and two, never underestimate the sisterhood. It was tough, tough stuff.

But I realized then even as serving as the president of the student body that what I really liked was being behind the scenes, and so as I continued my engagement in student government in college as you just heard, serving as the speaker of the student senate, one of the things I did there I was really incredibly proud of, I served as the campaign manager for Mona, who became the very first African-American woman to serve as the Student Association president at Mankato State University.

And this was a sea change for Mankato, a school that as you can imagine in Minnesota, wasn't exactly a high percentage of African-Americans or people of color period. But we believed in diversity and diversity of voices and that was a huge moment for me.

Student government was also incredibly important for me professionally, though I didn't realize it at the time. I had the opportunity to work with the state legislature. We were, as students of course, fighting for better tuition bills or hopefully not as many tuition increases. We failed like students continue to fail today. But what I did is I met a lot of legislators and in fact one of those legislators was the reason I got my first job, my first paying gig in politics, which was for a wonderful woman by the name of Mary Reeder. She was running in the first congressional district in Minnesota. She's a professor at a local university and I joined her team as the finance director. The only catch was I had never really raised money, but I said yes anyways because I was young enough and crazy enough to just say yes and do it.

But I lucked out because Mary was one of those EMILY's List candidates, one of those EMILY's List candidates, which meant there was staff that would come to the campaign and train the staff on those campaigns. And it was EMILY's List who invested in me as a start-up fundraiser who didn't know what she was doing for this candidate. And I saw the power of EMILY's List from a staff perspective, but I also saw the power of a movement when Mary received the endorsement of EMILY's List.

And in 1990, EMILY's List sent out their mailings, which they would mail to thousands of people across the country asking for direct support for Mary Reeder. And we would get these checks from all over the country, from towns I'd never heard of, with these little notes, and they were for fifty dollars, maybe a hundred dollar checks – and they were all checks, it was '96 – and they would come with notes that said, "Mary, we need your voice in the House. We've got your back. Keep your spirits up."

And we didn't win that race, but we came very, very close with a first-time candidate. And I was awakened to the power of the movement that can be built around the idea of equality and equal representation.

And so years later, I had another opportunity that engaged a different type of movement, and that was when I very kindly sat down with this governor from a tiny state who thought he'd run for president. Not this tiny state – way smaller than this state. The state of Vermont.

And I sat down with Howard Dean and I looked at this governor who I hardly knew and said, "Well how much money do you think you can raise for your presidential campaign?" 2004 – I've got to date it because everything's gotten so expensive now. He says, "Well, I think if we have $10 million we can get our message out." And I laughed and I said, "Well, I'm not going to take the job if we're not serious about 35 million," which was the max you could raise then if you stayed in public financing.

So he must have thought that was enough to hire me, so he did. And I went to Burlington, Vermont, and began to build with amazing talented people the technology to catch a movement. And I often think about it is we had a boat with sails and we put these big sails up. And there wasn't any wind when we built that big website or when we built that email list, but the wind came in the power of the people, who at that point it was about Iraq and it was about not going in war and of course then we went into war and it was an anti-war movement, and I realized just the incredible power of grassroots organizing that changed my perspective on absolutely everything. And that that little concept of 10 million that I thought would be 35 million turned into 52 million, which at the time was a lot of money. Now it's like a couple months of fundraising for these general elections. But I realized that that was the direction we were going and the power of all that.

So this brings us all to today. And I always say that I really do think I have one of the very best jobs in politics at EMILY's List and that's because I get to work every single day for a movement that's changing the face of power in this country at every level of government.

And at EMILY's List, as you know, we recruits Democratic women to run for office up and down the ballot. What does that mean? We go and sit down with them at their kitchen tables. We encourage them to run. We answer every single question they have about campaigns – and I'm just going to tell you, women have a lot of questions about how campaigns work. We will answer those and then some. We then go to our over 3 million members and ask those folks to invest in those candidates. And they do. And then we ask them to invest in us so we can turn out women voters. We are a full-fledged political operation.

But when I go to recruit women, I'm ominous. I'm very honest with them. It is a risk. You have to put your whole self out there. And the same is true if you're going to do that as a staffer. Something I've learned working on campaigns, whether it's a presidential campaign or a local campaign – it doesn't really matter who your dad is and it doesn't really matter where you came from. If you show up, do your job and work hard, you will get noticed. I promise you that.

And sometimes it's just really a matter of showing up. If you've worked long enough in politics, you know every campaign office has someone who walked into the door as a volunteer and said, "What can I do to help?" When you're on a presidential campaign, you always have a couple if not a lot of field organizers who show up dead tired after winning or losing a primary election in another state the day before, and they may not know where they're sleeping that night but they have packed up their cars and they have drove across the country. They show up and they're ready to work all over again.

So to those of you who can and want to do this, I encourage you to do it. When the opportunity comes up, pack up your car, show up, take a shot. I often get asked what I did to get the job I have now, and my answer is that I kept showing up, taking a risk, saying yes. So as you're thinking about stepping into public service, I encourage you to do the same.

You know many of you are in school here in the first program in the nation that offers a master's degree in public service. I just think this is fantastic. It's a school that's named after one of the most influential public servants in our nation's history. If you're graduating in May, to those students in here, you're graduating right at that's right time for a lot of campaigns who are going to be staffing up for the general election. And if you're not graduating this year or even if you're not in school – because I bet there's a few in here, as I look around, who may not be in school – and an opportunity comes up to go work on a campaign, I say do it anyway. I took two semesters off during my graduate program. I still finished the program. You can do it. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, absolutely one of the best decisions I ever made.

See, every campaign is a moment to make history. It's an adventure. You make friends for a lifetime. And by the way, those friends are the ones who help you get jobs in the future, so think of it as long-term security. And there are going to be a lot of campaigns looking for staff this year and next. So if anybody's interested, please send your resumes to resumes@emilyslist.org. Everybody get that? resumes@emilyslist.org. We are looking for folks.

And now let me switch gears a little bit and let's talk about this presidential race a little bit. It's been a hard one to miss, a lot going on. And there's something going on on the Republican side that's actually pretty interesting.

Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, it's clear that if you look at the actual policies that have been discussed, there's not a lot of daylight between the different Republican candidates for president. Their policies are basically the same, give or take a few, but their personalities are very, very different. The Republicans that are pulling ahead are the ones who do the best job of portraying themselves as the outsider. It's the ones who have spent the least amount of time or no time at all in government. You know – the Donald Trump's and the Ben Carson's.

But I would argue that whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, we don't come up with answers to the problems we're facing in this country by thinking in terms of outsiders versus insiders. If we really want to solve these problems, we don't do it by getting new personalities into office. We do it by getting new perspectives into Washington.

If our goal is to create better policy that makes a real difference in people's lives, then the answer's simple. It's not just about electing a representative government – though I will say is a noble goal and one we should work on anyway – but it is making sure that the voices that don't usually get heard at all in Washington are finally leading the conversation. That's how you make change and that's how you make progress on issues we care most about.

And just to give you an example of how this works, right now we have six new women who we've endorsed at EMILY's List for the United States Senate. One of them is an Asian-American women named Tammy Duckworth who's running in the state of Illinois. She's a combat veteran, a new mom, a Purple Heart recipient from a family who's had someone serve in the military in every generation since the Revolutionary War. She also happens to be someone who knows from very personal experience what it's like to grow up in a family who needed food stamps to have enough to eat.

Donna Edwards is running for the United States Senate in Maryland's open seat. She's the single mom of an African-American son who has led a real conversation in Baltimore after the loss of Freddie Gray about what we need to do to reform our criminal justice system and bring our communities together. She knows from personal experience what it's like to carry great student loan debt, struggle to pay for childcare, sometimes not have health insurance.

And these women will be elected to the Senate, I hope, if we do our job right, at the same time as a woman by the name of Catherine Cortez Masto who would be the first Latina ever elected to the United States Senate; a woman named Katie McGinty who grew up in Philadelphia, the ninth of ten children; a woman who serves as the first African-American attorney general, Kamala Harris in Califorina; and a woman named Ann Kirkpatrick, who grew up on the White Mountain Apache Nation in Arizona.

Just imagine how different the conversation about immigration, equal pay, raising the minimum wage is going to sound with those women at the table. And imagine how different the conversations are going to sound in the next few years with some of the voices in this room at that table. Because the truth is we need more elected officials with perspectives from all backgrounds and all ages, particularly younger folks. We need you to run and to lead.

I just visited with a group of women in the back and I said, "You know my job is to get you all to run," and I believe that. We need your perspectives as young people coming from different backgrounds and different parts of the country. Right now, we have a Congress with just 28 members younger than 40 and zero in their 20's – zero. And this is a time where we're debating things like student loan debt, which I'm going to guess some of you know a lot about in this room, and I know you know more than those serving in Congress today.

And we don't just need you in front of the cameras, though that would be very good. We need your perspectives behind the scenes as well, running the campaigns, writing the policy, doing the work that needs to be done. Don't ever discount the value of perspective and your perspective at the table.

There have been plenty of moments in my career when I looked around and realized that I was the only woman in the room – still. There have been rooms that I was kept out of because I was a woman that I knew I should have been in. And I've been in situations before where good-natured men have explained, you know, complicated fundraising strategies to me that I may have created myself.

But the truth, is the truth is, that the reason my story of growing up as a little girl in a mining town in Butte, Montana, and going on to serve as a senator's chief of staff and ultimately the president of EMILY's List is even possible, because I have the shoulders of women to stand on who came before me. And the reason Donna Edwards and Tammy Duckworth and all the candidates we support can tell their stories is because of the women who came before them and demanded that right.

If you just think back 40 years – for some of you that will be easier than others – to a time before a woman had ever served on a presidential ticket at all, before there was a woman on the Supreme Court, ever. Forty years ago. That was around the same time that a group of women at Newsweek started organizing secret meetings, whispering to each other in the hallways and trying to figure out what to do about their situation at work.

So what was happening? Newsweek was only hiring women to do low-paying jobs like checking facts, doing research, clipping stories. This probably sounds familiar. Only the men could be reporters and editors, only the men got the bylines. So a woman could try writing a story but if she wanted to get it published, one of the men in their office had to put his name on the byline to get it done. And the reason they were given was that "women don't write here." Well frankly, at the time, women didn't write in most places.

Well, the women of Newsweek decided to sue, and they won. And just a fun fact – Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Washington, D.C., congressional delegate – she was their attorney.

So change was coming. But even though the women at Newsweek had just won the right to tell stories as journalists, women everywhere were still fighting for the right to make their own choices and define their own stories.

This was all happening at Newsweek at the very same time that a woman named Hillary Rodham was entering her senior year at college at Wellesley, a women's college in Massachusetts that was a world away, I can imagine, from her middle-class upbringing in the Midwest.

So just to give you a sense of time, to put us back in that moment: first off, the fact that women like Hillary Clinton, Hillary Rodham then, and the women at Newsweek made it to their senior years at all was an historic achievement in itself. That's because even when Hillary Clinton was in high school, quitting school to get married was so common that sixty percent of women who started college dropped out before their senior year.

The rules students had to follow at Wellesley, an all-girls school, the curriculum they studied, the classes they were required to take, all would change by the time Hillary Clinton graduated, in part because she demanded those changes herself. But when she started college, women still weren't allowed to wear jeans and at some colleges across the country, women weren't allowed to wear pants at all. They had to wear skirts. They had to wear something, they had to wear skirts – just wanted to clarify.

You could have men in your dorm room on Sunday only, but only if you agreed to keep the door open and one foot on the floor. Birth control was absolutely illegal unless you were married, and in some states birth control was illegal even if you were married. If you were a woman and you weren't married, you couldn't rent an apartment without a man co-signing for you and you also couldn't apply for a credit card. Even after a law was passed to make it illegal to deny single women access to credit cards and even after she'd graduated from college and gotten married, Hillary Clinton got her credit card application turned down and she was told just to use her husband's, even though she made more money than him.

This was a very different time. This was where Hillary Clinton started out. And I see some heads shaking. There's other women who know exactly what this was like.

These were the kind of realities young women were dealing with at the time, and Hillary was up against other things, too. She had grown up in a middle-class family in the middle of the country in the middle of the 20th century. Sort of think "Mad Men." That meant she grew up in a neighborhood where the dads went to work in the morning, the moms put dinner on the table every night by six. They probably sprayed DDT on the front lawns. And little girls who wrote letters to NASA asking how to become an astronaut – like Hillary did – got letters back telling them that women couldn't be astronauts. This was where Hillary was coming from, and honestly, this was where my mother was coming from, too.

So after one month of college, she called her parents and she said she wanted to come home, said she was enough with this. And I don't really blame her. Many of her classmates at Wellesley had grown up in private schools, had taken a lot of wonderful fancy trips around the world. She'd grown up going to public schools. She was going to have to work to pay for college. And if her family took a vacation at all it was to her grandfather's cabin in Pennsylvania – exciting. She'd only been out of the country once and that was to see the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, which I will say by the time I graduated from high school was one more time out of the country than I had.

She didn't think she was smart enough to be there. Her dad told her she could come home but her mom told her not to be a quitter. Those moms are tough. So Hillary decided to stay and by the time she got to her senior year in college, the whole world had changed and so had she.

In February of 1969, Hillary was elected class president. Two months later, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis. Two months after that, Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. Students were angry about the Vietnam War, which my own dad was fighting in at that exact time, missing that entire year.

At Wellesley, students were ready for change, and they had some demands for the school. They wanted changes to classes that the women were required to take. They wanted the school to start hiring more diverse faculty members and accept more diverse students. They decided they were done following all these rules about how to dress, about how to behave, what to study – rules that the men their age would never be asked to follow.

And Hillary Clinton heard what her classmates wanted and she wanted them, too. So they got together and they got it done – all of it. And together with the first African-American organization at Wellesley they got the college to change its required courses and add new ones like African-American studies. The school agreed to dump that sexist dress code, thank goodness.

And when graduation came around the students decided that for the first time ever they wanted a student to give the commencement address at graduation, to speak for and not at them. And they voted for Hillary to be that person. The school also invited another speaker that year, Republican Senator Edward Brooke from Massachusetts. And after he was done speaking and it was Hillary's turn and instead of launching into her prepared remarks, she decided to do something completely different.

She started speaking off-the-cuff, responding to what the senator had said to them, because she could tell that when it came to change her generation was trying to make, he just didn't get it. And so she laid it out. She explained that when she and her classmates first got there, there was a gap between expectations and realities, but it wasn't a discouraging gap. It just inspired us to do something different.

She said that the question she kept getting asked over and over again while she was leading the students to make this change at the university is, why stay if you're dissatisfied? There's the door. Why try to fix something that's broken? So she explained that it wasn't just about her and her classmates and their dissatisfaction with the status quo. They were also thinking about the future, about what kind of students colleges were letting in and keeping out and about what those students were going to learn when they got there.

In her words: "We questioned what responsibility we should have both for our lives as individuals and for our lives as members of a collective group." And then she told a story. The day before graduation, she said, a woman had told her that she "wouldn't want to be me for anything in the world," Hillary said. She wouldn't want to live today and look ahead to what she sees because she's so afraid. But fear, Hillary continued, is always with us. We just don't have time for it. Not now.

Makes you think how much has changed and how much still hasn't changed.

But I think you'll find that every time we've made real change in this country, it can usually be traced back to a moment just like that, to someone somewhere standing up, telling their story and demanding change.

And right now it's your turn to tell your story. Why does this matter so much in this election? Well, it matters because the past is still present. As unbelievable as this is, in 2015 women are still making 79 cents to the dollar made by a man, and if you're a Latina you make just about half of what a white man would be making in the same job – half.

And no one, apparently, is immune to this. You remember the big Sony hack last year when they exposed how much less people like Jennifer Lawrence were making to their male co-stars? It's happening everywhere. Think about this. I mean, women do make up more than fifty percent of the population, but in this country we're still only 19 percent of Congress – 19 percent.

We are still having the same conversations right now that we've been having for generations in this country about raising minimum wage, ending gender discrimination in pay, about whether or not we have the right as women to make our own reproductive health care decisions, what we need to do to fix immigration, our incredibly broken criminal justice system.

But I'm here to tell you this time, after this election, it's going to be different, and that's because, and for some of the millennials – there's some millennials in this room – for the millennials in this room, starting this year you should know there are more of you eligible to vote than baby boomers. So for the baby boomers in this room, there are more millennials eligible to vote than you.

That means young people, people of color and unmarried women – also known as the Democratic base – together now make up well over 50 percent of the voting age population. This might take some getting used to, for both the millennials and for those people who have been getting to make all the decisions for the last many decades. But the reality here is that young people in this country have the power to decide what direction this country takes in this next election. And I'm not saying something that, you know, this could happen. I'm saying it will happen if they get out and vote, if you get out and vote, if you get your friends out to vote.

Not every generation gets an opportunity like that, but Hillary Clinton's did and yours does, and now you get to be the people who write the next chapter in our nation's history and ensure the next generations have it better than ours.

So thank you, thank you so much.

MODERATOR: All right, we got time for a few questions. So we have the microphone, so if anyone has a question please raise your hand. Surely – there's one, good. I gotta say defense of the white male. – good for you, Rob.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: My question is more about the politics in electing a woman. In the South, there's a lot of muzzling that goes on around the elections, and I was wondering, are there differences in what women can say versus what men can say in [unintelligible] elections, and are there differences in what can be said about a woman versus what can be said about a man in [unintelligible] elections?

SCHRIOCK: Those are really good questions. First I'm going to say that regionally we haven't seen significant differences about this, so it's not…it doesn't seem, I should say, harder for a woman to run in the South versus the Northeast versus the West. The major difference and why you're not seeing as many women elected in the South is a partisan issue actually. And so I want to address that very quickly. So when EMILY's List started 30 years ago – we're 30 years old this year, by the way – when we started 30 years ago no Democratic women had won a seat in the United States Senate in her own right. You know they usually followed because their husband had passed and then they stayed and reelected, as you had a senator here actually who went through that exact process – but they never been up and elected ever, this was 30 years ago. And EMILY's List started to be a force inside of the Democratic Party, so the party would look at women as equals and at the time they weren't looked that at that way. And so EMILY's List just pushed and pushed and pushed to a place with now, every year I sit down with the major Democratic leaders and we talk about recruitment. The founder of EMILY's List wasn't even allowed in the door. That's the difference of 30 years. So we've had success with Democratic women in places like Washington state, where we at one point had two Democratic women senators and a Democratic women governor, or in New Hampshire, where we've had a woman governor, a woman senator and two women in the House of Representatives – and a women Republican. We had the whole delegation actually, women, one Republican in the mix. But the problem here, particularly in this region, is that Republicans do not have the same mechanism to push women through as EMILY's List and we're feeling the pain for it. It's a really big problem. If we want to get to a place where there's an equal number of women and men serving at our decision-making tables, then the Republican party or some group of the Republican party needs to make some change. But what's the problem? Let me get back to your questions. I wanted to lay that out. One is policy, that their policies are just not as open to women.

But what can women do and say? The bar has gotten a little bit lower than it used to be for women in regard to proving experience. Twenty years ago, even ten years ago, the bar was really high because not enough people had seen a woman as a United States senator or as a governor and so you had to sort of help them imagine what it would look like in your state. And what we found in states where we've had success, we have more success underneath it. Because once people can say, "Oh – the state doesn't fall apart when there's a woman governor. How about that! That's really good – we could do this again," that has really, that has mattered. But women still have a higher bar to cross on experience than males, which we're hoping someday will even out. My fear is that it's going to go down and you won't need any experience instead of go up, but we will see.

We also are finally in an era where folks have to be at least a little bit more careful about what they say about women candidates. And that's because there is a growing network of whether it's bloggers, writers, journalists, just across the board, that are looking at how women are being covered in politics. They still haven't changed it all and there isn't a woman who's serving today that would not tell you a story about somebody walking up to them and complaining about their clothes or wondering what they were doing with the children or who was cooking supper for their husband, including in 2014 in the last election. So we're far away, but it's getting so much better than it used to be, it really is.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. My name is Emily Kearns. I'm a member of class 11 here at the Clinton School. Thank you for being here. I'd like to talk more about candidate recruitment, if you could talk more about what are the greatest obstacles to women running, what techniques you use to encourage women to run, and do you see differences in women not being encouraged to run at the federal level versus at the state level, at these local and county offices.

SCHRIOCK: My best tactic is to beg. That sometimes works. There's been a lot of research now that has asked women and men, how many times do you need to be asked before you run. There was actually a whole study done by Rutgers in asking legislators across the country, how many times did you need to be asked before you ran. And the women legislators said, like, up to seven, up to seven times. Anybody want to guess how many times the male legislators needs to be asked? [makes the "zero" sign with her hand]. Okay, some of them has to be asked once, to be fair, to be fair; some of them to be asked once. So that's a challenge, that's a real challenge, because women in our country still don't see themselves in the roles of elected officials and that is a constant challenge. EMILY's List is set up to ask seven times and if I need to ask 10 times I will do that. And I have plenty of stories of like massive amounts of recruitment around a candidate it to get her in. And I've done recruitment in a previous life when I was Senator John Testor's chief of staff, of men and women in Montana, and I didn't really see the differences of the questions that are involved until I became the president of EMILY's List and I was immersed in it every day.

We had a candidate a few cycles ago…. This was one where the parties were lined up…. So it was a House race, the leadership in the House wanted her to run, we wanted her to run, we had had an existing relationship with her – everybody was on her side. This does not happen all the time. Everybody's on her side. She's in the legislature and we want her to step up and run for the House. Nancy Pelosi calls, Steny Hoyer calls, Michelle Obama calls. Okay these are big – if you're a legislator, these are some serious calls! She is still like hemming and hawing and can't say yes, and I get on the phone with her, I like, "Julie, what is going on? What's holding you up? Tell me. Talk to me." And she said, "I just don't know if I can put the money together. I don't know if I can do the campaign." I said, "I don't buy it. I'll tell you this – if you tell me yes tonight, I will have staff on the ground tomorrow to help you with all of that. What is going on?" "I don't know what to do with my kids if I win." I said, "That is a really good question. I don't either. But Debbie Wasserman Schultz does and I'm gonna get her on the phone right now and she's going to talk to you about what schools. And then if you don't like that answer, I'm gonna put you on with Kirsten Gillibrand who did it slightly different. And we've got folks who have kids in their state…." And so the good news is we have role models to help – role models are so important – and we have role models for women like that. She said yes 30 minutes later after talking with Debbie Wasserman Schultz – just like that.

So we really do spend time doing this. We also do a lot of training at the local level across the country so folks feel more ready to do it. But the truth is, men don't go through these weeks and years of training – that doesn't happen. We have to get to a place to encourage our sisters to just take the risk, to just jump. And here's the thing – we're going to lose sometimes. That's okay, too. We got to not be afraid to lose. And a lot of times a loss, in my book, is just a step in the process. You'll run again. And it's for all of us – the women and men in this room who have to help change this. We have to encourage our sisters. They do need to be asked. It is for all of us to do the asking.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you for being here. I appreciate the mission of your organization. We've actually seen in Arkansas great strides in our legislature and ladies, females getting elected at the state level, county level, at the city level. My question for you, though, in that context, is, in a hypothetical situation, where there was a Republican lady – Carly Fiorina – and a Democratic male – Joe Biden – at the top of the two tickets, who'd you support [unintelligible]?

SCHRIOCK: Here's the great thing about EMILY'S List. We are a pro-choice, Democrat woman, and it is a three-for-three deal. So what we would do in that situation – after I picked myself out of the fetal position because Hillary Clinton's on the top of ticket – is I would make sure and all of us would make sure that there was a woman on the VP slot of that ticket, because there is time for a woman on the ticket for president and vice president of the United States, and then we would get engaged. We would never, never – we do not support Republican Women and there's a real reason for that. Until…until the Republican Party – and I hope, I'm sorry if I offend any Republicans in the room, but you know I'm with EMILY's List so you're going to hear it anyway – until the Republican Party really truly addresses the policies that are holding women back in this country, from equal pay for equal work to reproductive health care to health care in general, we're not going to support that party in any way, including women in it. And Carly Fiorina supports the party platform, and we think that party platform is incredibly dangerous for women in this country. I hope that the Republicans, at some point, change their way. They're going to have to, because the gender gap that is growing in this country is because women voters are also walking away. Not only are women candidates more Democrat than Republican for a good reason because the party platform is so bad, but so are the voters. And this used to be a party, if we remember long ago, where northeast Republican women were leading the way on the ERA, that they were pro-choice. The party, the Republican Party, has left women, including their own, behind. And that's something they have to address. In the meantime, we're going to….

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. My name is Kayla Close, and I'm a senior actually at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway; drove here to see you. I want to ask you, what is your advice for a young woman that wants to run for public office?

SCHRIOCK: First, call EMILY's List. Of course you have to be a Democrat so I apologize if you not a – okay good. Whew! I might have just walked into it right there, like, oh that's a mess! I mean what's…. One, that is fantastic and that's exactly what we're looking for are more and more women willing to step up and say yes, I want to run and I want to serve the public. A couple of things. First off, if you don't have a list of everybody you know, have ever met – put it together now. The nice thing is this is a lot easier than it used to be because it's all sitting on your phone in one way or the other. Because you do need to build an organization around you and that takes money, and building those networks, starting early on, including those that you went to high school with, those are your go-to folks for support, and that continued growing network is everything. And also think about why – why do you want to serve? And then think about, you know, the things you want to accomplish, and then affiliate yourself with organizations in the community who are like-minded, because that's going to be sort of your grassroots network of volunteers, supporters and everything.

I'm going to say it also depends on where you live and that's a whole nother conversation we can have, because there's just some places it's really hard to run as a Democrat. You have few of those here in Arkansas.

MODERATOR: Stephanie, I want to point out two things before we quit. Number one, the first Clinton School graduate ever elected to the Arkansas legislature – we've only had nine graduating classes – is Vivian Flowers, an African-American woman, the first Clinton School graduate.

SCHRIOCK: Yes, that's awesome. That is so good.

MODERATOR: And secondly, I want you to meet one of Arkansas's true heroes because in 1958, in 1958 when the schools were closed here because of the integration crisis and the city leadership was totally paralyzed and the civic leadership dominated by men could not get anything done, a group of women got together and met in secret because the governor was going around and his people were getting their license plates and were harassing them because they wanted to open the schools to all, to everyone. And they were called the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools and they met in secret. They never told anybody their names until 50 years later. And one of those women is here and she is a volunteer at the Clinton School and in 1958 Pat Youngdal saved this city.

SCHROICK: Oh my…. Oh my god. That's amazing.

MODERATOR: So thank you all for coming. Stephanie, it was great and we appreciate it and please come visit with her following the program. Everybody have a safe trip home and thank you for being here.

SCHROICK: Thank you so much.

Clinton School Speakers. (2015, Oct. 5). Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBQNl8vpq24