Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a new interview that Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cannot play the “gender card alone” to win the presidential election in November 2016.
In the interview with the Associated Press, McConnell said he did not believe that Clinton’s role as the lone female candidate on the Democratic side would be enough to win her the presidency and referred to his re-election match-up last year against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
“I don’t think arguing ‘vote for me because I’m a woman’ is enough,” McConnell said. “You may recall my election last year. The gender card alone is not enough.”
McConnell defeated his opponent handily last year in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate election in what many political analysts considered a swing election at first. Lundergan Grimes used gender pay equality as one of her main campaign points, while the incumbent McConnell focused more on President Barack Obama’s deep unpopularity in the state.
While McConnell said in the interview that many Americans “would love to have a woman president,” he was unsure of the differences that a Clinton presidency would present in contrast to the Obama White House.
“The question is, a woman president to do what? And I think inevitably, Hillary Clinton’s campaign will be four more years of the last eight,” he said.
The Senate Majority Leader did credit Clinton’s intelligence and capability of handling the responsibilities of the presidency, but said that there’s “not a dime’s worth of difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in terms of policy.”
“She’s going to run left, just like the president did," he said. "And their gamble is that the country is farther left than it used to be."
While McConnell expected Clinton to be the Democratic presidential nominee, he gave advice to the many Republicans running for higher office.
“I think our nominee ought to say something like this: ‘She’s right, if you’re happy with the last eight years, she’s your candidate. But if you think America can do better by taking a different path, I’m your choice,’” McConnell said.
Shortly after his comments were made public, the Clinton campaign responded back, saying the Kentucky Senator “really doesn’t get it.”
“There is a gender card being played in this campaign,” Clinton wrote on her Facebook page. “It’s played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception. These aren’t just women’s issues, they are economic issues that drive growth and affect all Americans.”