4 Times Presidential Candidates Focused On Women In The Democratic Debate

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Rape culture and reproductive rights are important topics in American political discourse, and Democratic candidates discussing women's issues during the debate were tuned into that on stage. On Wednesday, during the first Democratic debate of the season, presidential hopefuls talked about everything from equal pay to abortion access, vying to be the candidate with the most impressive stance on the issues. In an effort to distinguish themselves on women's issues, candidates at times even spoke over each other.

President Obama's former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro was the first presidential candidate to mention women when he spoke about equal pay, and from there it was a rapid fire race to devote time to the subject. By and large, the candidates made clear that women's rights were something they all pretty much agreed on. Simply put, they all support protecting access to abortion (though they generally didn't say the word), and they all agree that women should have equal pay for equal work.

But women's issues are not limited to those two topics, and supporting an idea in theory is a lot different than presenting an actionable plan —let alone a timeframe to implement it. That's one of the reasons why it's still important to pay attention exactly how candidates talk about women's issues, even if they all share similar opinions.

Castro Talks About Passing Equal Rights Amendment

Castro broached the subject of equal pay by discussing what it was like to watch his single mother try to make ends meet.

He remarked that "moms across this country are being paid less, simply because they're women. I would do several things, starting with something we should have done a long time ago, which is pass the Equal Rights Amendment."

O'Rourke Supports Women's Autonomy Over Their Bodies

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke was the first candidate to bring up women's rights to reproductive freedom. While discussing health care, he argued that it must "mean that every woman can make her own decisions about her own body and access to the care that makes that possible."

His remarks made way for a rowdier conversation just a few minutes later.

Everyone Addresses Abortion

Things heated up when the topic of abortion came up, and especially after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suggested that he had worked harder than anyone else to ensure women had access to affordable reproductive health care.

His claim didn't go over well with Sen. Amy Klobuchar who responded: "There's three women up here that have fought pretty hard for a woman's right to choose."

Booker Highlights The Murder Rate For Black Trans Women

In a discussion about civil rights, Sen. Cory Booker discussed what he described as "the lynching of African Americans." At least 10 black trans women have been killed in 2019, according to reports.

"We do not talk enough about trans Americans, especially African American trans Americans and the incredibly high rates of murder right now," Booker said.

Wednesday only marked the very beginning of the presidential debate season, which means there will be plenty more opportunities for candidates to share their thoughts on women's issues. That the topic came up so quickly suggests that debate moderators and candidates alike are aware that voters will want to know where each presidential hopeful stands, sooner rather than later.