In an interview on Fox & Friends, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway implied that Cory Booker's 2020 presidential run is sexist because some of his opponents in the Democratic primary are women. The New Jersey senator announced his campaign for president on Friday, and Conway asserted that if Booker were a Republican, he would have been accused of sexism for running against Democratic women.
"What is wrong with the candidates that are already in there? What is your objection to Kamala Harris running, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, these others who have already announced?," Conway said. "Tulsi Gabbard maybe? If he were a Republican running against them, they immediately would call him a sexist for running against these women in the Democratic field.”
In actuality, Booker would not be permitted to run against Harris, Warren, Gillibrand and Gabbard if he were a Republican, as Republicans aren't allowed to run in Democratic primaries. Moreover, while progressives generally support gender parity in Congress and have celebrated the uptick in women running for president, it is not a tenet of progressive thought that men who run against women for office are, by definition, sexist.
It's worth noting that Trump himself ran against several women in 2016, and was regularly accused of sexism during that campaign. However, this was not due to his gender, but rather specific comments he made on the campaign trail, including his insinuation that fellow Republican candidate Carly Fiorina was too ugly to be elected president.
Other than Trump, Booker is the highest-profile man to declare his candidacy in the 2020 presidential race. Other men seeking the Democratic nomination include South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, Rep. John Delaney and entrepreneur Andrew Yang; in addition, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke are all said to be considering a run, though none have formally jumped into the race just yet.
In the same interview, Conway quoted Trump's accusation that as mayor of Newark, Booker "ran [the city] into the ground" — an attack line commonly used by white Republicans running against black mayors — and questioned Booker's qualifications to be president.
“I’d also ask him what exactly you accomplished qualifies you to be commander-in-chief and president of the United States?” Conway said of Booker, a Rhodes scholar and lawyer who worked in community organizing before becoming a city councilman, mayor and U.S. senator.
Although Booker has made clear that he opposes Trump's policies, he has also refused to attack him in personal terms and said on several occasions that, as a consequence of his general worldview, he has "love" for Trump.
"My faith tradition is love your enemies," Booker told the Atlantic in December. "It’s not complicated for me, if I aspire to be who I say I am. I am a Christian American. Literally written in the ideals of my faith is to love those who hate you. I don’t see why that’s so shocking. But that doesn’t mean that I will be complicit in oppression. That doesn’t mean I will be tolerant of hatred."
Conway doubled-down on her accusation on Twitter, writing later in the day that Booker "must have issues with the women of 2020."