She The People Forum: 2020 Candidates Try To Win Votes From Women Of Color The first-ever She The People forum is organized around questions from female voters of color, with 2020 presidential candidates being reminded what a big role they play in the Democratic Party.
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Democratic Candidates Pressed On Priorities By Women Of Color

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Democratic Candidates Pressed On Priorities By Women Of Color

Democratic Candidates Pressed On Priorities By Women Of Color

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

As former Vice President Joe Biden prepares to enter the presidential race tomorrow, Democratic voters are deciding which candidate they would like to represent them. Today, a major forum took place in Houston focused on questions from women of color. Here's New Jersey Senator Cory Booker speaking earlier to activists with the group She the People.

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CORY BOOKER: We in America owe a debt to the championship and the leadership and the activism of women of color.

SHAPIRO: Eight of the most well-known Democratic candidates attended, as did NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow, who joins us now. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Tell us about what some of the big priorities being addressed there are.

DETROW: Well, a whole wide range of progressive subjects came up, questions about voting rights, abortion rights, transgender rights, police shootings, environmental issues. This is a crowd that wants a progressive candidate, shouting things at times like abolish ICE as candidates gave answers on immigration. You know, we've talked a lot about how this Democratic field is tilting very progressive. One of the more moderate candidates in the race, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, was asked a question about how she can appeal to progressive voters and the moderates that she thinks the party needs to win in 2020. She said it comes down to talking about broad issues that a lot of people care about and also approaching it with empathy.

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AMY KLOBUCHAR: I can't imagine what it is like to make - oh, so African American woman to make 61 cents an hour compared to what a man makes - right? - a white man. That's wrong. But what I can tell you is that my entire life, I have fought for justice.

SHAPIRO: Scott, this is the most diverse field of presidential candidates ever. But so far, a lot of the male candidates have gotten the media attention, particularly the white male candidates. Did that come up at this forum for women of color?

DETROW: Not really directly, but it was clear hanging in the air. One organizers asked every single candidate was, why should women of color vote for you? And for some of the men on the stage, specifically Beto O'Rourke, it was a little bit of an awkward moment and a pause there. O'Rourke said that this is something he knows he has to earn. A lot of the candidates said something that boiled down to, look at my track record; trust my track record. Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro said something to that effect.

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JULIAN CASTRO: I have dedicated my time in public service to making sure that people just like my mother and my grandmother could do better in this country. It's why I focus in my time as mayor and as HUD secretary so much on trying to deliver for communities that are vulnerable, that are struggling.

SHAPIRO: Scott, when you look at the demographics of voters in 2020, how important are minority women for Democratic candidates?

DETROW: Incredibly important. This is a solid, energized voting bloc for the party, and a lot of campaigns will concede that the candidate who wins minority women, particularly black women, is going to be the nominee. And that came up a lot today. You know, this has always been something assumed in Democratic politics to the point where a lot of minority women felt that their support was taken for granted. It's really been at the forefront of the political conversation during last year's midterms and so far in this presidential race.

Leah Daughtry, a Democratic operative, said on the stage, women of color voters are 20 million strong. And she said basically, if you neglect us, we will neglect you, and you won't have our support - pretty strong message.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Scott Detrow at the She the People presidential forum in Houston, Texas. Thank you, Scott.

DETROW: Sure thing.

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